NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Italian American Defense League, and a Wooster Square neighbor, have filed a lawsuit against the City of New Haven and Mayor Justin Elicker over the removal of a Christopher Columbus Statue.
The lawsuit claims that the removal of the statue on Wooster Square was unlawful and the League, along with resident Ralph Macarelli, suffered damages to due to its removal. The plaintiffs also seek an order to take control of the statute and prevent the city from moving it to another jurisdiction.
Macarelli is a long-time resident of New Haven and lives on Wooster Place. He is also a member of the Italian American Defense League, and says the removal of the statue hurt his home's property value. The league is organized to promote, advance and, when necessary, defend the interests of Italian-Americans. The plaintiffs are being represented by well-known New Haven attorney Norm Pattis.
The lawsuit explains that the process by which the statue was targeted for removal happened in 2020 amidst the George Floyd protests. Activists seeking to dismantle signs of "white supremacy" clamored for the removal of certain public monuments, including the statue of Christopher Columbus.
In the same month, the Board of Park Commissioners held a meeting about the removal of the statue. The suit claims the meeting was unlawful as there was no public notice of the meeting, and that there was no formal vote for the removal of the statue or an opportunity for citizens to voice objections. Later that month Elicker announced the statue would be removed within 60 days; it was removed within a week.
At the time, the city noted that the statue, as well as other statues of Columbus in Connecticut and around the country, were being vandalized, including the one in Wooster Square.
The plaintiffs demand a trial by jury of their claim for punitive damages against Elicker and New Haven.
A previous lawsuit filed by American Italian Women for Greater New Haven was dismissed by a federal judge.
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