Originally founded in 1970 by reputed Mob Boss Joe Colombo, the Italian-American Civil Rights League was formed to combat stereotypical and discriminatory portrayals of Italians in US news and media. While the league’s prominence was short-lived, the IACRL has newly minted leadership in place that is ready to carry out the original aims of the organization and to protect the interests of the Italian-American community.
Political strategist Roger Stone spearheaded the revival of the IACRL, believing that a strong advocacy group with public prominence was needed to fight against the onslaught of anti-Italian attacks related to our traditions, culture, and religion. The stated mission of the revamped group is to “honor Italian traditions, celebrate our family values, and recognize those contributing to our culture’s successes. At the same time, it is our intention to educate the American people about anti-Italian American bias and persecution, and, above all, to fight anti-American discrimination both through the judicial system and in the public arena.” As a non-partisan, non-profit civil rights organization, the league plans to fight back mainly through charitable and legal work such as raising money to support Italian-American-owned businesses, providing legal assistance to any members of the league who may require it after losing their jobs, being defamed, etc., as well as waging lawsuits against any individuals or entities that threaten Italian-American interests.
The legal work will largely be undertaken by a litigator in New Jersey by the name of Giancarlo Ghione. In addition to Stone and Ghione, the IACRL’s board is rounded out by their main spokesmen in political writer Paul Ingrassia and former congressional candidate Mike Crispi, along with former NYPD officer Sal Greco and television personality John Tabacco.
Another means that the group intends to use to achieve its goals is the endorsement of political candidates who stand up for Italian-American causes. The IACRL has already given its support to Michael D. Byrne at the state level for the New Jersey State Senate in 2023, but has also endorsed Donald J. Trump for President of the United States of America in 2024. Although the organization is still in its early stages, this endorsement was acknowledged by the former president on Truth Social, who stated that it is “Such a great honor!” In alignment with their endorsement of Trump, the IACRL also issued its first official condemnation of a political figure to Ron DeSantis, who happens to be of Italian descent.
The first official event of the Italian-American Civil Rights League was their participation in the Columbus Day Parade in New York City as they were joined by Andrew Giuliani, former candidate for New York Governor and son of “America’s Mayor” Rudy Guiliani. This is just the beginning of the IACRL’s support of Columbus Day and the monuments that celebrate the famed Italian explorer, as they are ready to use litigation as a tool to protect Columbus’ legacy and his meaning to the Italian-American community. The organization also intends to leverage its network of connections with strong social followings that can correct the narrative surrounding Christopher Columbus on a major scale.
Outside of the group’s hopes to eventually become a central part of the Columbus Day festivities in the Big Apple, the IACRL has many other events in the works as they “lead the efforts to combat radical attempts to sabotage our honored history from both sides of the political aisle.” Per Paul Ingrassia, there are plans to host “an annual gala, a Columbus Day annual celebration, group dinners, trips to Italy, and other community events.” There have even been talks of hosting another Italian Unity Day in New York City, similar to the events held by the original Italian-American Civil Rights League in Columbus Circle that drew crowds of over 50,000 people in the early 1970s.
If any of these initiatives excite you, you can learn more about the Italian-American Civil Rights League or become a member by visiting IACRL.org. Membership is open to all individuals, regardless of ancestry, who resonate with the league’s mission statement.
- Proudly Introducing the New and Improved Italian American Civil Rights League [Paul Ingrassia’s Substack]