Rahm Emanuel: Remove Fascist Balbo Column and Rename Balbo Dr.
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We have all been shaken by the violence in Charlottesville, VA. Communities across Chicago and the country have been speaking out against racism and fascism, and standing in solidarity with those who have been injured and murdered by fascists in Charlottesville.
Throughout the country, statues built to honor hate, racism, and slavery are being taken down.
Yet Chicago has a monument to fascism in the heart of our city.
Mussolini's "Heir Apparent" was Italo Balbo. Balbo led a gang of Black Shirts, murdered Catholic priests, broke up labor unions and was rewarded with a leadership position in Mussolini's air force.
Balbo flew to Chicago for the 1933 world's fair, where he donated a Roman column with a plaque, that still stands just east of Soldier field in the Gold Star Families Memorial Park.
The plaque reads, " This column twenty centuries old erected on the beach of Ostia port of Imperial Rome to safeguard the fortunes and victories of the Roman triremes. Fascist Italy, by command of Benito Mussolini presents to Chicago exaltation symbol memorial of the Atlantic Squadron led by Balbo that with Roman daring, flew across the ocean in the 11th year of the Fascist era."
In return, the city of Chicago named a street after Balbo.
After World War II, the Italian government took down all symbols of fascism, and asked that other countries do the same.
This column, plaque, and street name do not deserve to be displayed publicly as an honor to the bloodthirsty ideology that is fascism.
The column, plaque and street name are an affront to the millions of US soldiers who fought and died to defeat fascism, to Italians who suffered under Mussolini's dictatorship, to Ethiopians whose country was invaded by fascists, to Jewish people who suffered the holocaust under the fascist alliance, to Catholics who Balbo murdered, to unions, and to many many more.
Fascism glamorizes death. To honor fascism is to embrace dictatorship, hate, racism and slavery.
Chicago is a progressive city, a city where all are welcome. We need to be a city that honors democracy, not dictatorship. A city that honors activists, not fascists.
Which is why we ask that Mayor Rahm Emanuel take action to take the Balbo column and plaque down, and to rename Balbo Drive.
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