Italian-American group to quiz candidates about Columbus statue

The head of an Italian-American group is taking the fight over the city’s Christopher Columbus statue to the ballot box, planning to quiz each candidate in the upcoming election on their position on the monument.

Angelo Vivolo, president of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, said his group would survey every candidate for city office in this year’s election to ask whether they think the statue of the explorer at Columbus Circle should stay or be taken down.

“We want to expose everyone, let everyone’s opinion be known, and then let the Italian-Americans and others in the public eye decide who should be elected and who shouldn’t be elected,” he said Sunday on the John Catsimatidis AM 970 radio show.

“If they don’t respond to our letter, we’ll assume they’re not in favor of preserving the Christopher Columbus statue.”

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Mayor de Blasio has announced plans for a commission to review monuments on city property, and possibly recommend removal of ones considered “symbols of hate.”

One of the highest-profile statues set for review is the monument to Columbus, who is hailed for his role in launching European exploration of the Americas but reviled for his brutal treatment of native inhabitants.

Italian-American groups, who consider Columbus a symbol of their heritage, have protested the possibility it could be altered.

Vivolo said de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has said the city should consider removing Columbus, are “both misguided.”

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“Their idea of attacking the Columbus statue at Columbus Circle is just insane. It’s terrible and it’s an affront to all Italian-Americans,” he said.

The Daily News on Sunday documented 22 historical figures with complicated histories who are memorialized in the city.

De Blasio said last Monday that he would “hopefully in a matter of days” name the members of the commission, which is expected to take 90 days to do its work. His office had no further information Sunday on when the panel would be assembled.

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