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Mayor to March in Columbus Parade as City Reviews Monuments to the Explorer

By Katie Honan | October 9, 2017 8:40am
 Mayor Bill de Blasio and other leaders will march on Fifth Avenue Monday to honor Christopher Columbus, even as he has convened a commission to decide if statues like the one honoring the Italian explorer are still appropriate in his city.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and other leaders will march on Fifth Avenue Monday to honor Christopher Columbus, even as he has convened a commission to decide if statues like the one honoring the Italian explorer are still appropriate in his city.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

NEW YORK CITY — Bill de Blasio and other leaders will march in a parade up Fifth Avenue on Monday to honor Christopher Columbus amid backlash against over the mayor's review of city monuments that some call as symbols of hate, including statues of the Italian explorer.

The mayor will join Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Comptroller Scott Stringer and others for Manhattan's annual Columbus Day Parade, which kicks off before noon on 44th Street and Fifth Avenue and travels up to 72nd Street.

The annual celebration comes as de Blasio has called for a review of statues, plaques and landmarks around the city — including those that honor Columbus.

The 90-day review of “all symbols of hate” began in August following the removal of several monuments to controversial historical figures such as Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

In August, the mayor asked people not to "pre-judge" the review, and said he understands why Italian-Americans like himself are protective over Columbus statues.

“When my grandparents came here over 100 years ago, Italians suffered a tremendous amount of discrimination in this country and that went on for quite a while," he told reporters, adding that “we’re all taught that Columbus was a source of pride because of his achievements."

But others criticize Columbus for the atrocities inflicted on Native Americans when he came to North America — vandalizing an Astoria Columbus statue with "Don't Honor Genocide."

Italians in the city have rallied behind Columbus statues. De Blasio's Republican challenger for mayor, Nicole Malliotakis, said he lacked "the heart and soul of an Italian" for considering removing the Columbus statue in Columbus Circle.

The mayor was also uninvited from a parade honoring Columbus in Morris Park in The Bronx on Sunday because of his monuments review, organizers said.  

Organizers believe the mayor wants to take down statues to the Italian explorer.

"That's an insult to all those immigrants who put that statue up at Columbus Circle," that parade's chairman, Tony Signorile, told the Daily News.

Monday's parade comes with multiple street closures, which begin at 11 a.m. and end at 3 p.m.

Marchers will line up on East 43rd through East 47th streets between Vanderbilt and Sixth avenues. They will also be on Fifth Avenue between East 43rd and East 47th streets.

Fifth Avenue between East 47th and East 72nd streets will be closed for the parade.

Participants will be let out between Fifth and Madison avenues, from East 72nd to East 78th streets.

The parade will also close East 62nd Street between Madison and Fifth avenues, and East 68th through East 70th streets, between Park and Fifth avenues.