Italian-American group fights to save Columbus statues

Posted: Updated:
FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP -

An Essex County Italian-American group is fighting to save statues of Christopher Columbus, as controversy surrounding the historical figure grows.

The Fairfield chapter of the Italian-American group UNICO says that they would like to collect all of the unwanted statues. 

UNICO Fairfield Chapter President Amedeo Pineta says that Columbus is an important figure for Italian-Americans. Half of Fairfield’s 7,400 residents are Italian, according to the last census.

“I love it. I have a lot of family members here,” says Fairfield resident Vito Contuzzi. “There's over a hundred of just my family members just living in this town."

Residents say that Italian pride runs deep in Fairfield and they say that Columbus is an important part of that pride.

RELATED: Vandalism targets pair of Christopher Columbus statues
RELATED: Indigenous Peoples Day? Some Italian-Americans say stick with Columbus

But Columbus has become controversial with some opponents questioning his supposed treatment of indigenous peoples when he arrived in the New World. Some have called for the end of Columbus Day and the taking down of his statues. Several Columbus monuments in New Jersey have been recently vandalized.

"This country is about the freedom of all nationalities to come and enjoy their history and their traditions and their heritage and not at the price and cost of another,” Pineta says.

Pineta says that UNICO would like to collect the unwanted statues and put them up at the Fairfield municipal park. UNICO will bring their proposal to the council next Monday.

"We're Italians and the heritage that Columbus brought to the Italians is something we don't want to give up and we won't give up,” says Pineta.

Contuzzi says that he would love to take a few statues if there is an overflow.

"I would love to have two in front of my house,” he say. “While everyone is taking them away, we'll bring them here."

San Francisco voted earlier this week to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

  • New Jersey SlideshowsSlideshowsMore>>

  • Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcome baby boy

    Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcome baby boy

    It's the third child for Kate and Prince William, and he's fifth in line to the British throne.

    It's the third child for Kate and Prince William, and he's fifth in line to the British throne.

  • Guide: National park sites in the tristate area

    Guide: National park sites in the tristate area

    Statue of LibertyStatue of Liberty

    A guide to the national park sites and trails on Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York City and the Hudson Valley.

    A guide to the national park sites and trails on Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York City and the Hudson Valley.

  • 2018 Summer Stadium Tours

    2018 Summer Stadium Tours

    Here are the artists who will be performing at tri-state stadiums this summer.

    Here are the artists who will be performing at tri-state stadiums this summer.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."