Italian Americans and The Truth about The Columbus in Columbus Circle
Progressives want to tear down the Christopher Columbus statue in New York’s Columbus Circle. But do they even know what it means?
The largest mass lynching in United States history took place in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 14, 1891. That night eleven Italian Americans were all tied up side by side and hung for the alleged murder of New Orleans Police Chief David Hennessy. The lynching occurred the day after trial for 9 of the 19 men who had be indicted for the murder. Six defendants were acquitted of any charges and a mistrial was declared for the other 3 because the jury failed to reach any agreement on a verdict. The word got around that the jury had allegedly been bribed by a local mafia family, but no evidence of that happening was ever found.
That night thousands of citizens gathered outside the jail and broke in where 11 of the defendants were being held. Among the rioters were some of New Orleans’ most prominent citizens, singers and musicians mixed with the rest of the local thugs. This caused Italy to cut off any diplomacy with the United States and actual talks of war had started brewing. This mob vengeance that was taken on men who stood trial and were supposed to be provided their constitutional rights as citizens was actually widely praised in the American media. The call for cutting of immigration from Italy was widespread across the country. None of the citizens who took part in rioting or breaking into the prison and hanging the 11 Italian men were ever charged with a crime. The part of the story that’s never told is on that night of October 15, 1890 when police chief Hennessy was shot he never saw his shooters nor could he identify any of the perpetrators when other policemen went to the hospital to visit him. The next day Chief Hennessy had complications with the gun shot wounds and died. His death sent New Orleans Mayor Joseph Shakespeare into a rage, telling officers to ” scour the whole neighborhood. Arrest every Italian you come across, if necessary….” In less then 24 hours 45 Italian Americans were arrested. Mayor Shakespeare had convicted these men by a speech he gave before the trial saying “We must teach these people a lesson they will not forget for all times.” Clearly the rights of Italian American immigrants weren’t protected but exploited.
This injustice of a mob murder was felt in the hearts of all Italian Americans, especially in New York where their greatest population was concentrated. Italian Americans of NYC formed a very tight bond during this time and were looking for a way to honor those who were unjustly murdered. They took to the streets and formed what we would call a modern day go fund me. Each one of them decided to start raising money to erect the statue of Christopher Columbus with the help of Il Progresso an Italian American newspaper. In 1892 the statue was erected with pride by its creator Gaetano Russo.
So wouldn’t it be racist to tear down the Christopher Columbus statue that represents the memory of the unjust mass murder of 11 Italian Americans in New Orleans 126 years ago? We might not agree with what Christopher Columbus did, but this statue of him represents everything the left is outraged about and trying to fight against which is racism. Liberals proclaim to be the social justice warriors of our country. Why would they desecrate a memorial statue to men who were murdered because of their race ? So while Columbus may have done things we all disagree and condemn, can we agree that the memory of those Italian American men in that vile act of mass murder should be protected?