New Haven dedicates immigrant monument in square where Christopher Columbus statue was removed

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut city on Sunday dedicated a new monument to immigrants to replace a statue of Christopher Columbus that was removed in 2020 amid nationwide criticism of the European explorer’s role in enslaving and killing Native Americans.

The statue in New Haven’s heavily Italian neighborhood of Wooster Square depicts a young immigrant family as they arrive in America with just a handful of suitcases.

The statue was made by local artist Marc-Anthony Massaro and is called “Indicando la Via al Futuro,” or “Pointing the way to the future.”

The 1,400-pound (635-kilogram) bronze sculpture depicts a father holding a suitcase in one hand and his son in his other. The son is pointing his finger to something in the distance while his mother stands behind his sister, who is clutching a book.

Massaro, the grandson of Italian immigrants, says the piece is meant to honor immigrants who arrived in the 1900s, transforming countless cities across the Northeast, including New Haven, which is home to Yale University.

“My sculpture is intended as a gesture of respect for my grandfather’s generation,” he said in a video on the Wooster Square Monument Project’s YouTube page. “A generation of immigrants, not only from Italy but from everywhere in the world, who laid the foundations of opportunity for their descendants.”

The Columbus statue had stood in the park for more than a century but was taken down by the city after a local high school student organized a petition seeking its removal.

Statues to the Italian explorer were among the controversial landmarks that received renewed scrutiny across the country during a national reckoning over racism triggered by the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis in 2020.

Columbus’ sailing expeditions opened the door to centuries of exploration, conquest and settlement of the Americas by Europeans that included establishment of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the killing of scores of Native Americans.

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