CHICAGO — A former attorney for the City of Chicago is suing Mayor Lori Lightfoot for defamation after she allegedly berated a group of lawyers during a heated meeting over the removal of the Christopher Columbus Statue.
The statue was removed in July 2020 following unrest over the murder of George Floyd. Under Lightfoot’s orders, crews used a large crane to remove the statue from its pedestal in Grant Park following a week after protesters trying to topple the monument clashed with police.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by former Chicago Park District counsel general George Smyrniotis, says Lightfoot blocked a deal with an Italian-American group to display the statue in the Columbus Day Parade.
Smyrniotis claims she berated the lawyers who struck the deal, asking them which law school they attended or if they even went to law school. The suit claims the insults defamed Smyrniotis by insinuating that he lacked the abilities to perform his duties.
The lawsuit also claims the mayor used obscene language and called the lawyers “d—-.” The mayor allegedly made the following statement:
“You make some kind of secret agreement with Italians, what you are doing, you are out there measuring your d—- with the Italians seeing whose got the biggest d—, you are out there stroking your d—- over the Columbus statue, I am trying to keep Chicago Police officers from being shot and you are trying to get them shot.
The lawsuit claims she then went on to say, “My d— is bigger than yours and the Italians, I have the biggest d— in Chicago.”
The city has not commented on the lawsuit.
A second statue of Columbus was removed the same day the Grant Park statue was taken down. The second statue was removed from Arrigo Park in Little Italy. Several Italian Americans had been guarding the statue, considering it a celebration of their immigrant heritage. At the time, they accused the mayor of caving in to activists.
Columbus Day, as well as statues honoring the historical figure, has been controversial because the day has been used to commemorate the Italian explorer who claimed to have discovered the region now known as the Americas in 1492. The area was already populated by Indigenous people and some have argued that Columbus’ actions led to their genocide.
Those opposed to renaming the holiday argue that the day is meant for celebrating Italian heritage and historical contributions.