Preserve Columbus - The Hero

Christopher Columbus in cap


This morning, Tuesday, April 6, 2021, Italian Americans across the nation have filed a civil rights law suit against Philadelphia mayor James F. Kenney for multiple instances of anti-Italian discrimination, including circumventing Philadelphia City Council by issuing an executive order purporting to abolish the municipal holiday of Christopher Columbus Day.

In a press conference (included below as an .mp4 file), attorney George Bochetto, of the law firm Bochetto & Lentz, P.C., 1524 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA 19102, announced the federal court filing to major news outlets.  The plaintiffs in the suit include the Hon. President Basil Russo's Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations, which, in turn, comprises organizations from all over the world, including the United States, Italy, Canada and South America, such as Filitalia International, Italian Sons and Daughters of America, UNICO National, the Justinian Society of Lawyers, the National Italian American Bar Association and many other organizations.  Joining in the suit as plaintiffs is Philadelphia City Councilman Mark F. Squilla, President Jody Della Barba and the 1492 Society over which she presides.  

The 189-paragraph federal complaint seeks, inter alia, the voiding of Kenney's executive order, the enjoining of Kenney or the city from taking any action to implement it, and "other and further relief" for violations of the Equal Protection Clause, including financial relief.  The law suit challenges Kenney's basis for the elimination of Christopher Columbus Day -- Kenney claims that Columbus committed atrocities in the New World -- with evidence from primary historical sources researched by Robert F. Petrone, Esquire, that Christopher Columbus not only committed no atrocities, but was actually the first civil rights activist of the Americas who fought tirelessly against the mistreatment of the tribal peoples of the Americas by the Spanish hidalgos.  Paragraph 42 of the complaint reads:

    Mr. Petrone’s reports not only unequivocally demonstrate there is no support in the primary source materials to corroborate the heinous wrongdoings Mayor Kenney and the City of Philadelphia now falsely charge Christopher Columbus with, but also demonstrate that the primary historical sources unanimously bear out that Christopher Columbus was the first recorded civil-rights activist of the Americas, having (1) prohibited the mistreatment and the enslavement of the tribal peoples by the hidalgos (low, landed nobles of Spain) during his tenure as governor of the West Indies; (2) established the first “underground railroad” of the Americas by traveling around the West Indies on his Second Voyage rescuing Tainos from enslavement by the man-eating Carib and Canib tribes; and (3) successfully petitioned the King of Spain to promulgate the first civil rights legislation of the Americas decreeing that “all the Indians of Hispaniola were to be left free, not subject to servitude, unmolested and unharmed and allowed to live like free vassals under law just like any other vassal in the Kingdom of Castile.”

The complaint, also lists a slew of additional discriminatory actions by Kenney against Italian Americans in Philadelphia, including (1) depriving residents of Philadelphia's Italian American neighborhood of COVID vaccines, (2) covertly removing the statue of Philadelphia's first and only Italian American mayor, (3) attempting to covertly remove the statue of Christopher Columbus, (4) referring to Italian American residents defending the Columbus statue as "vigilantes" and (5) referring to potential Italian immigrants as "guido[s]" (Complaint, ¶¶ 8-13, 67-82).

The Philadelphia Inquirer has already reported on the story:

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