CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The growing calls nationwide to remove statues and symbols that represent past cruelty have now reached Cleveland.
“Columbus is not someone we should celebrate. He was a racist monster who initiated the genocide against indigenous Americans,” the organizer or a new online petition wrote.
The petition is calling for the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood with a bust of Ettore Boiardi, better known as Chef Boyardee.
“If Italian-Americans in Cleveland want to celebrate one of their own, they need look no further than the iconic Ettore (Hector) Boiardi, AKA Chef Boyardee. Born in Piacenza, Ettore immigrated to the U.S. at age 16 in 1914. He eventually moved to Cleveland, where he opened a restaurant, Il Giardino d’Italia, that was so popular people asked him to bottle his sauce for them,” the petition stated.
As of Friday evening, more than 500 people have signed the Change.org petition.
Statues of Columbus are being vandalized or dismounted across the country in hopes of erasing the connection to his oppressive and cruel acts towards indigenous people upon arrival to America.
“Why do you have to destruct and destroy and put terrible, terrible things about this poor man [who] can’t even defend himself?” asked Paulette Mutillo, who told 19 News she grew up in Little Italy.
She stopped by the statue on Friday to take pictures of it, worried about its future, she said.
“Leave the statue where it is, that’s my point, that’s my view,” Mutillo added.
19 News reached out to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s office for comment. The email request has not been returned as press time.
A similar petition is circulating to rename Ohio’s capital city of Columbus to “Flavortown” after celebrity chef Guy Fieri.
Governor Mike DeWine was recently asked about removing Columbus statues.
“The idea that we’re going to go around and pull every statue down because somebody is not perfect is, you know, probably not a good idea,” he said.
The National Congress of American Indians has also weighed in.
In a statement earlier this month, president Fawn Sharp wrote:
“This growing movement across the country to rid our shared spaces of symbols that represent hate, genocide, and bigotry illustrates that it is past time for all cities to stand on the right side of history moving forward.”