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Protest To Rename Balbo Drive, Remove Monument Planned For Wednesday

By Kelly Bauer | August 23, 2017 8:56am
 Activists will call for the removal of the Balbo Monument and the renaming of Balbo Drive during a Wednesday protest.
Activists will call for the removal of the Balbo Monument and the renaming of Balbo Drive during a Wednesday protest.
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DOWNTOWN — Activists will call for the removal of the Balbo Monument and the renaming of Balbo Drive during a Wednesday protest.

The protest is part of a renewed movement against the monument and street name, which honor fascist Italian general Italo Balbo. Activists want the monument to be removed from Burnham Park and Balbo Drive to be renamed Ida B. Wells Way in honor of the Chicago activist and journalist.

The monument is "an enduring symbol of white supremacy and racism," according to a news release from a group organizing the protest. "Now, with American fascism once again on the rise, it’s more important than ever for us to make clear that we will not tolerate the celebration of hateful, racist and anti-worker ideologies."

The Balbo Monument, which is a column atop a pedestal, was gifted to the city by fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in the early 1930s. Mussolini — who passed anti-Semitic laws, perpetrated war crimes and was an ally of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler during World War II — gave the monument to Chicago in honor of Balbo's flight from Rome to Chicago.

The monument has an inscription that reads it is a gift from "Fascist Italy" and was given to the city in "the 11th year of the Fascist era" of Italy.

Balbo was a fascist organizer and a powerful member of Mussolini's government until his death in 1940. He helped oversee Italy's takeover of parts of Africa.

The protest starts 6 p.m. at 1400 S. Museum Campus Drive near the monument. Supporters of ANSWER Chicago, Black Lives Matter's Women of Faith and other groups will attend.