The Italian American One Voice Coalition, an organization of anti-bias activists committed to combating the discrimination and stereotyping of individuals of Italian descent, has advanced one step closer in its goal of protecting Christopher Columbus statues across the United States.
Earlier this week, the IAOVC received word from Federal court that the organization has standing to sue the Township of West Orange, NJ on behalf of its members following the decision by Mayor Robert Parisi to remove a Columbus monument at the intersection of Valley Road and Kinglsey Street in June of 2020. When this decision was made by Parisi, the IAOVC filed suit in Federal US District Court seeking an injunction to have the Columbus statue returned to its original location, and in doing so, conveyed “ a warning to elected officials in every town, city, and state that we will not stand by as they consider removing an important symbol of our heritage,” said the organization’s late founder, Dr. Manny Alfano. The West Orange lawsuit is only the first of several to be filed, as Columbus statues across the country face removal and vandalism based on common misconceptions surrounding the explorer and his legacy.
Just days before the decision to get rid of the West Orange monument that had stood since 1992 was passed down, the city of Camden did away with its Columbus statue while Trenton also decided to remove theirs in July of 2020. Many members of the affected Italian American communities were upset with these decisions, fueling the IAOVC to take action.
“What we’re talking about here is a violation of the 14th amendment, said Andre DiMino, IAOVC Executive Board Member. “Italian Americans are a cognizable racial group under the 14th amendment and you can’t discriminate for one ethnicity over another.”
He continued to state that “Columbus is an iconic and significant symbol to Italian Americans, and actually, all Americans. He changed world history by uniting the continents. And, Columbus statues were dedicated as an apology and atonement for the brutal denigration and discrimination endured by Italian Americans in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Attacking Columbus is an attack on Italian Americans.”
Through these efforts, the IAOVC hopes to achieve its stated mission which is to “secure the rightful representation of Americans of Italian origin and of all peoples whose paths toward social equality have been impeded.”
- Federal Judge Declares IAOVC Has Standing to Sue in West Orange Lawsuit Over Columbus Monument [IAOVC]
- Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition Files First Landmark Federal Litigation to Defend Columbus Statues [IAOVC]
- Italian American organization files lawsuit against NJ city over Christopher Columbus statue removal [News12]