An online campaign is asking Ohio officials to replace a Christopher Columbus statue with renowned chef Ettore Boiardi, more famously known as “Chef Boyardee.”
The Columbus monument, located at the Tony Brush Park in Cleveland’s Little Italy, celebrates a person who “initiated the genocide against Indigenous Americans,” the online petition claims.
The Change.org movement suggests that the city’s Italian-Americans want to “celebrate one of their own.”
“If Italian-Americans in Cleveland want to celebrate one of their own, they need look no further than the iconic Ettore (Hector) Boiardi, AKA Chef Boyardee,” the petition’s webpage reads. “Born in Piacenza, Ettore immigrated to the U.S. at age 16 in 1914.”
Adding, “He eventually moved to Cleveland, where he opened a restaurant, Il Giardino d’Italia, that was so popular people asked him to bottle his sauce for them.”
With a goal of 2,500, the petition had more than 1,600 signatures as of June 28 calling for the Boyardee statue. It was created three days prior.
The petition details how the famous chef earned a gold star in 1946 from the United States government. Boiardi was awarded for his contributions to the World War II efforts, the website continues, by making canned food for U.S. soldiers.
“It’s time for Cleveland to tear down its statue to a genocidal sociopath with a bowl cut and erect a statue to an immigrant success story who enriched our community with his food and iconic mustache,” the petition claims.
Columbus Statues are Being Vandalized Across the United States
As racial tensions continue to rise in the U.S. following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose police custody death sparked global protests, many Confederate statues have been removed, CNN reported.
Columbus statues are now stepping into the limelight, according to CNN, generating criticism over the controversial figure’s oppressive history toward indigenous people.
The explorer has been a longtime “contentious figure in history” for his role in aggressively colonizing indigenous communities, the news organization continued.
At least three Columbus statues in the U.S. have been vandalized and tampered with so far, CNN said.
KMSP reported earlier in June that a group of protesters pulled a statue to the ground at the Minnesota State Capitol using a rope.
In Richmond, Virginia, a crowd of nearly 1,000 people flooded Byrd Park on June 9 to protest a Columbus statue, according to WTVR.
The Richmond Indigenous Society announced on Twitter, “We are gathering at Byrd Park to protest yet another racist monument. Christopher Columbus was a murderer of Indigenous people, mainstreaming the genocidal culture against Indigenous people that we still see today. Bring your sage, drum, jingle dress, and mask!”
Protesters later tore down the statue and tossed it into a lake.
Boston officials, on the other hand, removed a beheaded Columbus statue in the city’s North End around that same time period, WBZ reported.
The statue had previously been vandalized in 2015, the station said, when it was drenched in red paint and spray-painted with the words “Black Lives Matter” on the back.
Boiardi Opened His First Restaurant in 1926 in Cleveland
Boiardi was born in Piacenza, in northern Italy, according to Foodimentary. At 16, he immigrated to the United States to join his brother as a waiter in New York, the website disclosed.
The chef then went on to supervise the catering for former president Woodrow Wilson’s wedding at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, the website continued.
The 24-year-old opened his first restaurant, the Il Giardino d’Italia, in Cleveland, Ohio in 1926.
He changed his name to Chef Boyardee to “insure that Americans could pronounce his name properly,” Foodimentary said.
In 1946, Boyardee sold his brand to American Home Foods for 6 million dollars, the website added.