News & Politics

UNDER SIEGE: Antifa Rioters Throw Cans, Shoot Fireworks at Cops in Battle for Columbus Statue

Antifa rioters throw fireworks at police at Columbus statue in Chicago, Twitter screenshot (WGNNews.)

Chicago descended into a war zone on Friday night as a protest at the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park devolved into a violent riot, complete with assaults on police and an attempt to pull down the statue of the Genovese Catholic who connected the Old World and the New.

“Columbus was a murderer! Columbus was a thief!” rioters chanted, according to The Chicago Tribune. Hundreds of protesters took part in a Black Lives Matter rally that also championed Native Americans. At about 7 p.m., one of the protesters shouted that Chicago police had gone to protect the Columbus statue.

Black-clad rioters — who might be associated with antifa — rushed to the stone wall around the statue and began pelting nearby police with cans and fireworks. When some rioters attempted to scale the wall, police batted them away with their batons. One rioter shouted, “This is not the way!” as his fellows threw fireworks and other incendiary devices at police officers.

WGN TV News captured aerial footage showing what amounts to a siege in front of the Columbus statue.

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Rioters chanted, “F**k the blue!” as the area around the statue smoldered.

The antifa rioters won the skirmish and some mounted the statue, planning to tear it down.

Grace Del Vecchio captured footage of rioters attempting to pull down the statue.

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Police reinforcements arrived, and officers decided to use pepper spray to counter the rioters. Police reclaimed the statue, but the rioters remained close by. The rioters organized a bike chain to square off against police near the park.

The violent riot injured about 18 police officers, some of whom were hospitalized, police spokesman Thomas Ahern told The Chicago Tribune. The cops arrested about a dozen rioters, who face pending charges ranging from battery against a police officer to mob action. At least five civilians were hospitalized from the area, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford reported.

While the statue remained standing after the incident, it and the surrounding wall had been defaced with anti-police graffiti.

The true story of Columbus

Leftists have demonized Columbus, blaming him for the evils that followed his historic connection between Europe and the Americas. While the “Columbian Exchange” that followed his historic voyages did involve the enslavement of native Americans and the introduction of Old World diseases that decimated native populations, the exchange also introduced long-term benefits to both the Americas and Eurasia. Some of the foods from Europe and Asia helped Native Americans stave off food scarcity and starvation, and Europeans introduced written languages, the compass, the navigational map, and new forms of crop rotation.

As for Columbus himself, he is far from the simple villain many leftists make him out to be.

As Aileen Riotto Sirey, founder of the National Organization of Italian Women, and Angelo Vivolo, president of the Columbus Heritage Coalition, noted in an article for the New York Post, slavery was already in America before Columbus landed. “So were cannibalism and human sacrifice, neither tolerated in the Old World,” they noted. The great pre-Columbian American empires sacrificed enemies captured in war and even their own children. Some ate the flesh of enemies to take their strength.

Columbus aimed to introduce the value system that eradicated human sacrifice in Europe — Christianity. In fact, according to sociologist Robert Woodberry, the missionary spread of Christianity has promoted democratic values across the world. In fact, the brand of Catholic Christianity Columbus aimed to spread to the New World also condemned the abuse of Native Americans.

Columbus aimed to extend Christianity to regions where it did not exist. “This conviction that God destined him to be an instrument for spreading the faith was far more potent than the desire to win glory, wealth, and worldly honors,” according to historian Samuel Eliot Morison.

Historian Carol Delaney also debunked claims that Columbus supported genocide. “Columbus strictly told the crew not to do things like maraud, or rape, and instead to treat the native people with respect,” she told the Knights of Columbus. “There are many examples in his writings where he gave instructions to this effect. Most of the time when injustices occurred, Columbus wasn’t even there. There were terrible diseases that got communicated to the natives, but he can’t be blamed for that.”

Interestingly, Columbus also adopted an indigenous child as his son.

Columbus was far from perfect, but he was also not the villain oft portrayed today. Many wrongly demonize him as the scapegoat for the evils of European colonialism and slavery in the Americas. This simple view must be rejected.

Chicago police were right to defend the statue of Columbus, and rioters who proclaimed themselves on the “right side of history” are profoundly wrong.

While Americans on both sides of the aisle have loudly denounced the horrific police killing of George Floyd, the riots that broke out across the country in his name have destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 22 Americans have died in the riots, most of them black. America needs a return to law and order.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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