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An Italian-American group is suing New Haven over a Columbus statue’s removal

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Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public

An Italian-American women’s charitable group is suing the city of New Haven over the removal of a statue of Christopher Columbus. The city removed Columbus from Wooster Square Park during protests over the police killing of George Floyd last year.

Fran Calzetta, a member of the group Italian-American Women of Greater New Haven, said Columbus is misrepresented.

“He opened the world, he opened this country,” she said. “He has been our hero, and justifiably so.”

The lawsuit said the city’s practices and policy have favored its Black community over its Italian-American community.

“This has nothing to do with race,” Calzetta said. “It is simply a civil rights issue, that the city of New Haven made a major boner by choosing one ethnic group over ours.”

The city is considering a new monument that would depict a family of Italian immigrants.

“Face the fact, that is just nonsense that the city favors Blacks instead of Italians — look around the city,” said Reverend Boise Kimber, pastor of New Haven’s First Calvary Baptist Church.

Kimber said he’s glad the statue is gone.

“Columbus was a tyrant,” he said. “He was not a hero. He was a murderer, he was a bigot — killed thousands of slaves.”

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Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He fell in love with sound-rich radio storytelling while working as an assistant reporter at KBIA public radio in Columbia, Missouri. Before coming back to radio, he worked in digital journalism as the editor of Newtown Patch. As a freelance reporter, his work for WSHU aired nationally on NPR. Davis is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism; he started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.
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