Statue of Christopher Columbus in Chicago's Grant Park is taken down under cover of darkness after Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered its removal following violent BLM protests amid Trump's vow to deploy federal troops

A famous statue of Christopher Columbus in Chicago was removed under cover of darkness in the early hours of this morning after drawing chaotic protests in a wave of violence which has led to President Donald Trump's deployment of federal forces in the city.  
Hours after news spread that Mayor Lori Lightfoot had sanctioned the statue's removal, crews in Grant Park used a large crane to hoist the monument from its pedestal around 3am on Friday.  
The statue, which critics call a symbol of oppression, had already been covered in plastic wrap to protect it from vandals and was at the center of violent scenes last week, when 49 police officers were injured by a mob hurling rocks and fireworks as they attempted to tear the statue down. 
Also overnight, city crews removed a smaller monument to Columbus in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood. 
In a statement, Lightfoot said that she had ordered both statues 'temporarily removed...until further notice.'
'It comes in response to demonstrations that became unsafe for both protesters and police, as well as efforts by individuals to independently pull the Grant Park statue down in an extremely dangerous manner,' Lightfoot said. 'This step is about an effort to protect public safety and to preserve a safe space for an inclusive and democratic public dialogue about our city’s symbols.' 
The developments in Chicago come as Lightfoot publicly battles Trump over his plans to surge federal law enforcement in Chicago in response to a shocking wave of violence, with murders in the city up 190 percent in the past four weeks from the same period last year. The removal of the statues also the latest turn in increasingly contentious culture wars that have rocked the nation, with calls for racial justice after the death of George Floyd expanding into bitter disputes over how to assess the soul of the country and the symbols of its history.
Other statues of Columbus have come under attack across the United States during the Floyd protests in recent weeks, with one decapitated in Boston and others removed or toppled in Houston, Richmond, Baltimore and elsewhere. 
Trump's plan to send federal agents into Chicago and other cities follows the controversial deployment of militarized federal agents in Portland, where the agents clad in camouflage simply marked 'Police' have clashed with protesters, some of whom have surrounded and attacked federal facilities during 57 straight nights of violent unrest.
On Thursday night, Trump warned that he would 'go into all of the cities' and threatened to send up to 75,000 federal agents into the streets of America, or roughly 75 percent of all federal officers in the country.
In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Trump mentioned Detroit as a likely city for increased federal enforcement. He has also singled out Philadelphia and New York City, and on Friday reports emerged that a federal tactical team was headed to Seattle ahead of protests anticipated there over the weekend. 
Removal: Chicago's controversial statue of Christopher Columbus is hoisted away by a crane in the early hours of this morning, watched by a municipal crew who helped to remove it from Grant Park overnight
Removal: Chicago's controversial statue of Christopher Columbus is hoisted away by a crane in the early hours of this morning, watched by a municipal crew who helped to remove it from Grant Park overnight
Statue of Christopher Columbus torn down in Chicago park
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Hours after news spread that mayor Lori Lightfoot had sanctioned the statue's removal, crews used a large crane to remove the monument from its pedestal as a small crowd gathered to watch in Grant Park
The statue of Columbus, seen by many as a symbol of racial oppression, had already been covered in a plastic wrap to protect it from vandals and was at the center of violent scenes last Friday night
Under cover of darkness: Hours after news spread that mayor Lori Lightfoot had sanctioned the statue's removal, crews used a large crane to remove the monument from its pedestal overnight
Toppled: City crews inspect the straps that are around the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park as they begin to remove it following violent protests over the monument
Toppled: City crews inspect the straps that are around the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park as they begin to remove it following violent protests over the monument 
Also overnight, city crews removed a smaller monument to Columbus in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood
Also overnight, city crews removed a smaller monument to Columbus in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood
Also overnight, city crews removed a smaller monument (above) to Columbus in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood
No more: The Columbus statue in Grant Park, pictured as it looked in May 2019, is the latest monument to the Italian explorer to come down during the George Floyd protests across the United States
No more: The Columbus statue in Grant Park, pictured as it looked in May 2019, is the latest monument to the Italian explorer to come down during the George Floyd protests across the United States  
Chicago's Mayor Lightfoot reacted with bitter opposition after Trump announced on Wednesday that federal agents would be sent there following a wave violence in the Windy City, where 63 people were shot, 12 of them fatally, last weekend. 
'Under no circumstances will I allow Donald Trump’s troops to come to Chicago and terrorize our residents,' Lightfoot said in reaction to the plan.  
Before sunrise on Friday, the Columbus statue in Grant Park was removed in front of a small cheering crowd, while passing cars honked as the monument was winched to the ground. 
It was driven away on the back of a truck after coming down at around 3am, but it was unclear where the monument would be taken.  
Reports had emerged on Thursday night that Lightfoot had authorized the statue's removal after previously opposing the move.  
Protesters had gathered outside the Chicago mayor's house Thursday night to demand she defund the police and turf Trump's federal agents out of the city. 
More than 2,000 protesters blocked an intersection outside Mayor Lightfoot's home Thursday night, waving banners reading 'Black Lives Matter' and 'No justice no peace', while there was no sign of federal agents.
Chants turned from 'f*** CPD' to cheers of elation when someone announced over the microphone that the city is planning to take the controversial Columbus monuments down from Grant Park and Little Italy. 

Sources said the mayor is looking to avoid a repeat of the clashes witnessed between cops and protesters last week, reported the Chicago Tribune.  
However, there was outrage at the decision from Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara who slammed Lightfoot as a 'coward'.   
Steve Cortes, spokesman for pro-Trump Super PAC America First, called the mayor 'feckless' and accused her of giving in to 'violent nihilists'. 
Several Italian-American leaders in Chicago said the community was unhappy with the decision. 
Gianni Pasquale of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans blasted it a betrayal to the Italian-American community for many of whom Columbus is a symbolic figure. 
'The Italian American community feels betrayed. The Mayor's office is giving into a vocal and destructive minority. This is not how the democratic process is supposed to work,' he said. 
Columbus's arrival in the Americas in 1492 unleashed centuries of European colonisation, making him a symbol of conquest and violence to Native Americans. 
One Columbus statue was beheaded in Boston last month while another was torn down and thrown in a lake in Richmond, while other cities have taken pre-emptive action to remove their statues like Chicago has done.   
The empty pedestal in Richmond was spray-painted and covered with a sign saying 'Columbus Represents Genocide' after the statue was set on fire and taken down.  
A crane removes the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park from its plinth after mayor Lori Lightfoot authorized the move
A crane removes the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park from its plinth after mayor Lori Lightfoot authorized the move
A worker on the ground raises his hands towards the Columbus statue as it is hoisted back to ground level by the large crane
A worker on the ground raises his hands towards the Columbus statue as it is hoisted back to ground level by the large crane
A group of people in support of the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue cheer as the it is driven away from Grant Park
A group of people in support of the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue cheer as the it is driven away from Grant Park
Crews used a large crane to remove the statue from its pedestal as a small crowd gathered to watch. Some lorries were nearby but it was not clear where the toppled statue would be taken
Crews used a large crane to remove the statue from its pedestal as a small crowd gathered to watch. Some lorries were nearby but it was not clear where the toppled statue would be taken 
Two cops and a small crowd of others watch on as the statue is removed early on Friday morning
Two cops and a small crowd of others watch on as the statue is removed early on Friday morning
The view from outside the park as the statue is hoisted off its pedestal by a giant crane and brought back to ground level
Cops watch on as the statue is removed last night
The view from outside the park as the statue is hoisted off its pedestal by a giant crane and brought back to ground level
Police walk around at the site of the covered Columbus statue after protesters attempted to topple it Friday. Police were guarding the monument when they were hit with fireworks, authorities said
Police walk around at the site of the covered Columbus statue after protesters attempted to topple it Friday. Police were guarding the monument when they were hit with fireworks, authorities said
Hordes of police targeted protesters with pepper spray and wooden batons at last Friday's protest. A view of police descending upon the monument and pushing demonstrators out above
Hordes of police targeted protesters with pepper spray and wooden batons at last Friday's protest. A view of police descending upon the monument and pushing demonstrators out above

The protest attempted to pull down a Christopher Columbus statue with ropes
The protest attempted to pull down a Christopher Columbus statue with ropes
Last night, protesters gathered at the intersection near Lightfoot's home before they learned the statue was to come down
Last night, protesters gathered at the intersection near Lightfoot's home before they learned the statue was to come down 
Federal agents use crowd control munitions to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland - an intervention which is now being extended to Chicago by Donald Trump
Federal agents use crowd control munitions to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland - an intervention which is now being extended to Chicago by Donald Trump 
The statue of Columbus was at the center of last Friday's violence when cops unleashed tear gas on protesters and several were left injured after they attempted to tear down the statue. 
At least 20 complaints of police brutality were filed against officers following the night's events, with one activist Miracle Boyd saying she had one of her teeth knocked out by a cop when they smacked her in the face. 
Days later, Chicago police released footage showing protesters aiming fireworks and frozen water bottles at officers and announced 49 officers had been injured by 'criminal agitators' in the commotion.       
On Tuesday in another neighborhood, a spray of bullets from a car passing a gang member's funeral wounded 15 people and sent dozens running for their lives.  
'I've never seen things worse in this city than they are right now,' said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest and longtime activist on the city's South Side.  
Trump announced on Wednesday that federal agents would be sent to Chicago, ignoring Lightfoot's warnings that deploying paramilitary personnel would 'spell disaster' for the city. 
'What we do not need, and what will certainly make our community less safe is secret, federal agents deployed to Chicago,' Lightfoot said in a letter to Trump. 
'Secret, federal agents who do not know Chicago, are unfamiliar with the unique circumstances of our neighborhoods and who would operate outside the established infrastructure of local law enforcement would not be effective, regardless of the number, and worse will foment a massive wave of opposition,' Lightfoot said.  
A collection of activist groups had filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, seeking to block federal agents from interfering in or policing protests.  
However, Lightfoot sought to ease concerns that the surge will resemble the kind of scene that unfolded in Portland, where unidentified agents in camouflage have beaten unarmed protesters and stuffed some of them into unmarked vehicles.
Officials in Portland are also pushing back against the federal agents, with a judge granting a temporary restraining order Thursday, banning them from arresting legal observers and journalists at protests while protesters gathered outside the courthouse chanting 'hands up please don't shoot'. 
The president warned he will 'go into all of the cities' and will put in 60,000 troops on the nation's streets in an interview with Sean Hannity Thursday night. 
'We'll go into all of the cities, any of the cities. We're ready. We'll put in 50,000, 60,000 people that really know what they're doing,' Trump said.
'And they're strong. They're tough and we can solve those problems so fast.'
Police in riot gear gather in the streets of the city Thursday night before news of the removal of the statue spread
Police in riot gear gather in the streets of the city Thursday night before news of the removal of the statue spread
A huge crowd of protesters cheered in celebration Thursday night (pictured) as Chicago announced plans to topple its Christopher Columbus statue
A huge crowd of protesters cheered in celebration Thursday night (pictured) as Chicago announced plans to topple its Christopher Columbus statue
Chicago's Mayor Lori Lightfoot was slammed by the Italian-American community over the move with some saying they felt 'betrayed'
Chicago's Mayor Lori Lightfoot was slammed by the Italian-American community over the move with some saying they felt 'betrayed'
Lightfoot said she has been told the U.S. Attorney's Office will supervise the additional agents supporting the Chicago offices of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
But given the longstanding animosity between city officials and Trump, leaders from the mayor downwards worry that those promises will not hold up.
City officials will be on guard for any 'steps out of line,' particularly from agents with the Homeland Security Department, and they will not hesitate 'to take the president to court,' Lightfoot said. 
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Attorney General Bill Barr both said the mission in Portland — to protect federal property — differs from the focus in Kansas City, Chicago and Albuquerque.
Barr said the number of agents being deployed to Chicago is 'comparable' to the Kansas City surge of more than 200.
Trump, who is making law and order a central theme of his re-election campaign, painted Democrat-led cities as out of control and lashed out at the 'radical left.
'In recent weeks, there has been a radical movement to defend, dismantle and dissolve our police department,' Trump said, blaming the movement for 'a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.'
Lightfoot has repeatedly said she does not support protesters' calls to pull money from police in favor of social services. 
Statue of Christopher Columbus in Chicago's Grant Park is taken down under cover of darkness after Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered its removal following violent BLM protests amid Trump's vow to deploy federal troops Statue of Christopher Columbus in Chicago's Grant Park is taken down under cover of darkness after Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered its removal following violent BLM protests amid Trump's vow to deploy federal troops Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 08:50 Rating: 5

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