Competing Groups of Protestors Converge on Christopher Columbus Statue

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Members of Sons of Italy, Knights of Columbus, East Hanover Italian American Club, Unico stand in front of the Christopher Columbus Statue at Parsippany Municipal Building

PARSIPPANY —  Parsippany’s Christopher Columbus Statue Teach-In Demonstration went as scheduled on Friday afternoon at the Parsippany Municipal Building.

A group of approximately 30 demonstrators sat peacefully on the lawn at Parsippany Municipal Building

It was a peaceful demonstration as anticipated. About 30 demonstrators attended and listened to about a half dozen as they read their narratives as to why the statue should be removed. The organizers maintained their dignity throughout.

There were over 125 counter-demonstrators, comprised of members of Sons of Italy, Knights of Columbus, East Hanover Italian American Club, Unico, and concerned citizens of Parsippany and surrounding communities, came together in a show of unity to send a clear and strong message of support for retaining this very important symbol of the Italian heritage. Also among the crowd was Former Mayor Frank Priore, Former Mayor James Barberio, Former Council President Dr. Louis Valori, Retired Parsippany-Troy Hills Police Chief Michael Filippello, and Gabriel Pellaggi, with his father, Biagio, who created the monument. The monument was unveiled on October 12, 1992

 

Emily Cruz, a student at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y., and Parsippany resident started a petition to remove the Christopher Columbus Statue, which is located at Parsippany Municipal Building. The statue faces Route 46. As of Saturday morning, June 27, 1,743 people signed the petition.

Parsippany Resident, Robert Quinn, a graduate of Parsippany High School has started a petition to KEEP the Christopher Columbus Statue. As of Saturday morning, June 27, 2,729 people signed the petition.

“Due to BLM and other minority movements making way across the country, I felt that now was as good of a time as any to make a petition to remove the Columbus statue in Parsippany. We should not, in any way, celebrate or recognize his slaughter and enslavement of indigenous people. This is not someone that our town should be honoring with a statue,” said Cruz on change.org.

Sons of Italy of Morris County Chapter 2561 President Louis Amato, xx, and Patrick Minutillo standing in front of the Christopher Columbus Statue on Route 46 at Parsippany’s Municipal Building.

Parsippany resident Patrick Minutillo said “Our police department did a fantastic job of managing the event, traffic control, and crowd control, and there were no problems throughout. Great job PTHPD! A few friendly disagreements and that was it. It was great to see such a large, patriotic, enthusiastic, and energized crowd offering their time and support on behalf of this important issue.”

 

Council President Michael dePierro stated “Parsippany UNICO was an active Italian-American organization in Parsippany during the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. One of our many projects was to erect a statue of Christopher Columbus. The UNICO members viewed the explorer positively and with pride. Columbus’ voyage made the old and new worlds aware of each other for the first time, eventually leading to the new countries in the western hemisphere. Driven in large part by political correctness, activists and wannabe activists have challenged most of our history and those who were a part of that history. The wannabe critics of Christopher Columbus rely upon a warped and inaccurate rendition of Columbus. Their misguided effort has recently focused on removing Parsippany’s Statue.”

“When is it appropriate to purge statues and monuments that some people find offensive? Should every tribute to someone who was flawed be destroyed? Christopher Columbus was a man with many flaws … granted. But his journey changed the trajectory of our world. In any case, the Sons of Italy from many lodges; the Knights of Columbus; and many concerned citizens (some not even of Italian descent), got together today to tell the wannabes to leave our statue alone,” he continued.

Senator Joseph Pennachio said, “Our nation is facing an extremely difficult period and efforts are being made across the board to ensure we come out of this stronger, more unified, and more inclusive of people of all ages, colors, and origins. Instead of trying to erase and re-write history, we should focus on challenging ourselves to create a better history for ourselves and our future generations.”

“For better or worse, the past is permanent. It is our future that is a blank canvas that will be crafted through the shared vision of varied interests contributing common goals, priorities, and dreams. Recently a statue of Abraham Lincoln was defaced in Massachusetts. In England, a statue of Winston Churchill was damaged. In Washington D.C., a monument to the all-Black 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was defaced. To add to these misguided attempts of historical revision is just wrong,” Pennachio continued.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced Friday that a statue of Christopher Columbus was removed Thursday night from Washington Park and that it will be kept in storage until the city decides what to do with it.

There will be a similar protest on Tuesday, June 30 at 4:30 p.m. at the Christopher Columbus monument in East Hanover.

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