NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some Italian Americans are vowing retribution as Mayor Bill de Blasio refuses to exempt Christopher Columbus from possible elimination.
“I think he’s oblivious to reality. I think he’s totally ignoring the Italian American community,” Joseph Guagliardo, Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations said.
Guagliardo is so furious with de Blasio that he insisted on being interviewed at the statue of Christopher Columbus in front of Brooklyn Supreme Court — a second Columbus statue whose head is possibly on the chopping block, purged in the mayor’s campaign for political correctness.
“October 8 we have a wreath laying ceremony. If he does show up I would imagine that he’s pretty much upset everybody enough that they will do the same thing that the police did and turn their back on him,” Guagliardo told CBS2 Political reporter Marcia Kramer.
The group staged a rally last week at city hall to ask de Blasio to spare Columbus. They’re also threatened to show their displeasure if the mayor marches in the Columbus Day parade.
He said that he will, and he won’t be intimidated.
“I am never dissuaded by criticism or opposition. Anyone who can’t handle criticism shouldn’t be mayor of New York City,” he said.
The mayor would not back down from appointing a commission to review every statue and monument as a potential symbol of hate, or from including Columbus in that review.
“I’m an Italian American. I’m a very proud Italian American. There are some things to be proud of, there are some things to not be proud of, but I understand Marcia, why so many people feel so deeply about it,” he said.
But there are a lot of people upset, and it’s an election year.
“To folks who are concerned, I would say don’t pre-judge,” he said.
Columbus has supporters and detractors.
“If you’re going to take away the past you’re not going to learn from it,” one New Yorker said.
“I think you should just leave it alone. It’s a symbol of history. People live through it, not everyone is good,” another added.
The mayor said the review could have several outcomes; statues removed, statues left alone, and also the possibility that a plaque could be added to explain and correct history.