According to a lawsuit filed by a former Chicago Park District deputy general counsel who made a deal with an Italian American group to allow a Christopher Columbus statue to be used in a parade, Chicago Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot furiously told him, “My d*** is bigger than yours and the Italians. I have the biggest d*** in Chicago.”
The prelude to Lightfoot’s alleged remarks involved Lightfoot’s 2020 order — after the death of George Floyd prompted nationwide protests — to remove two Christopher Columbus statues which had stood for decades in Grant Park and Little Italy’s Arrigo Park. “This step is about an effort to protect public safety and to preserve a safe space for an inclusive and democratic public dialogue about our city’s symbols,” Lightfoot stated.
The statues were removed and placed in a city storage facility.
Then, prior to Columbus Day in October 2021, city Italian-American groups asked to display a Columbus statue temporarily during their Columbus Day parade and proposed placing it last in the parade and covered until the end, the lawsuit states. George Smyrniotis, who filed the lawsuit against Lightfoot and the city, and his superiors at the Park District had agreed to the proposal, with the idea that the Park District thought it would generate goodwill with the Italian Americans.
Lightfoot then threatened to pull the parade’s permit.
At a meeting between Lightfoot and Park District lawyers, Lightfoot allegedly warned them they had to submit their actions to the city’s legal department for approval, adding not “to do a f***ing thing with that statute without my approval.”
“’Get that f***ing statue back before noon tomorrow or I am going to have you fired. … What the f*** were you thinking? … You make some kind of secret agreement with Italians,” Lightfoot said, according to the lawsuit. “My d*** is bigger than yours and the Italians. I have the biggest d*** in Chicago.” The lawsuit claims she also snapped, “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.”
Chicago’s Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans filed a separate lawsuit alleging that the Park District violated a 1973 deal when it removed the Columbus statue in Little Italy. Enrico Mirabelli, who represents the group, told the Chicago Tribune, “Presuming the mayor has been accurately quoted, her comments give proof to the claim that she has wrongfully interfered with my client’s contract with the Chicago Park District in a degree that is unprecedented.”
The president of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, Ron Onesti, echoed that he was “literally outraged that someone in her position would ever use words like that to refer to any group of individuals. When will it end with the disrespect?”