Protesters Call For Removal Of Balbo Monument, A Gift From Fascist Dictator Mussolini

By Staff in News on Aug 24, 2017 8:35PM

Scores of protesters gathered near the South Loop's statue of Italian fascist organizer Italo Balbo to call for its removal Wednesday night. The protest joined a national conversation over the desire to remove memorials and monuments to people with objectionable and oppressive political views.

As we've covered, protesters began calling for the monument to be removed, and for Balbo Drive to be renamed, after the high-profile conflict in Charlottesville earlier this month. The Balbo monument was gifted to the city in 1933 by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in honor of Balbo, who helped bring Mussolini to power—and his transatlantic flight to Chicago, for the Century of Progress World's Fair. The monument features a 2,000-year-old Roman-pillar antiquity atop a stone base. In 1933, 7th Street was also renamed as Balbo Drive.

The protesters want the drive to be renamed as "Ida B. Wells Way" in honor of the local Civil Rights leader and suffragist of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

On Wednesday night, the protesters march through Museum Campus towards the Christopher Columbus statue on Columbus Drive and Roosevelt Road, then moved on to the Balbo Monument, where they rallied as police officers with bikes formed a barricade around the statue. Our photographer was there to capture the scenes from the protest.