Recently, there have been a lot of discussions about the movement to attack the reputation and historical importance of Christopher Columbus. Turbulent events in our nation have led to many emotions that have impacted cities and towns throughout New Jersey. While we work to understand and examine the historical conditions that have shaped our nation, it is important to look at all perspectives.
The image of Christopher Columbus is a source of great pride for Italian Americans. When looking at monuments and statues depicting Christopher Columbus, many Italian Americans are reminded of the accomplishments of other famous Italian Americans such as Sgt. John Basillone, a war hero; Lt. Joseph Petrocelli, a tough NYPD crime-fighter; or Joe DiMaggio, a beloved baseball legend.
Columbus statues are symbols of the many Italian American accomplishments in our great state. They serve as symbols of pride for the more than 1.5 million Italian American New Jerseyeans. And they are reminders of our legacy for future generations.
The vandalism and defacement of Columbus statues are culturally insensitive and divisive to Italian Americans. We view those acts of vandalism as offensive, as would any other enough group in a similar situation.
As the leader of the more than 4,000 members of the Italian American Police Society of New Jersey, I urge local leaders to remember the importance of Christopher Columbus Monuments. We demand the elected leadership of our state to respect the accomplishments and pride that the Italian American community has with its legacy in America. At a time when our Nation needs to come together, the attack on monuments to Italian heritage only fans the flames of anger and division. Italian Americans feel very strongly about this attack on our culture and history. Let’s move forward together as Americans proud of both our common heritage and ancestry and culture.
William Schievella, President
Italian American Police Society of New Jersey