New York City mayor derided as ‘fake Italian’ as statue debate heats up


New York Mayor Bill de Blasio

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (Reuters)

After pushing to remove the city's statues of controversial historical figures, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been snubbed by organizers of the Bronx Columbus Day Parade.

One committee member has even derided the Italian-American mayor as a "fake Italian."

The parade committee decided to not invite the mayor this year – even though he previously participated in 2012, 2013 and 2015 – all because of his appointment of a special commission focused on reviewing city statues and potentially removing them if they prove to be too controversial.

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“Why would I have a mayor march who acts like Pontius Pilate? He washes his hands and puts up an 18-member committee to look at each statute,” committee member Tony Signorile told the New York Post.

“At this point, I think he is a fake Italian," he continued. "The mayor should have thought this through and not gone along with the rest of the liberals.”

Signorile noted that City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito openly suggested removing Columbus statues that stand in Queens and at Manhattan's Columbus Circle.

De Blasio's statue task force was appointed in August in response to the white nationalist riot in Charlottesville, Va., which was sparked by a dispute over whether that city should remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The resulting violence in Virginia left one woman dead and multiple people injured.

The task force will determine if any city monuments honor historical figures who are now regarded as “oppressive and inconsistent with the values of New York City,” the New York Times reported.

Members of the Italian-American community expressed fear over potential removal of Columbus, whom they perceive as a symbol of progress and pride – but others deem as a colonizer who enslaved native peoples.

The fears are not confined to New York. Politicians in Los Angeles; Portland, Me.; and elsewhere have recently abolished Columbus Day and replaced it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.


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