Petition Calls on Officials to Replace Columbus Statue With Chef Boyardee

An online campaign is calling for Cleveland officials to replace a Christopher Columbus statue with one of "the iconic" Ettore Boiardi, also known as Chef Boyardee.

The petition stated that Columbus statue, located at the Tony Brush Park in Cleveland's Little Italy, celebrates a person who "initiated the genocide against Indigenous Americans."

"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 said. "Born in Piacenza, Ettore immigrated to the U.S. at age 16 in 1914. 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."

The petitioner, who is identified as Ettore Boiardi, also stated that the famous chef received a gold star in 1946 from the United States government because of his contributions to the war efforts during World War II, after he produced canned food for American 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 said.

The petition was created Thursday and is requesting 1,500 signatures, receiving over 1,200 thus far as of Saturday evening. Newsweek reached out to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's office about his response to the petition, but did not hear back in time for publication.

Multiple Christopher Columbus statues are already being removed across the Buckeye State. Columbus State Community College released a statement June 16 indicating it is removing a 40-foot Columbus statue from its campus, citing "the collegiate setting is often where students begin to refine their understanding of history and the world around them."

"Our students, community, faculty, and staff have consistently and patiently asked for the removal of the statue. We are listening. We will continue to grow as an institution that educates and inspires not only in the classroom but in every aspect of what we present to the community we serve," school president David Harrison said in the statement.

Bill DeMora, a member of the Columbus Italian Club in the community college, told WBNS News he hopes the statue is donated instead of destroyed by the school.

"It would go on private property and we would maintain it, and it would be something for the Italian community to still look upon with pride, over a native son who the city is named after," DeMora said.

Columbus, Ohio Mayor Andrew Ginther announced on June 18 that the Columbus statue located at City Hall will be removed.

"For many people in our community, the statue represents patriarchy, oppression and divisiveness. That does not represent our great city, and we will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past. Now is the right time to replace this statue with artwork that demonstrates our enduring fight to end racism and celebrate the themes of diversity and inclusion," Ginther said in a statement at the time.

Updated 9:08 PM ET, to include the latest number of signatures on the online petition.

Christopher Columbus Statue
A life-sized Christopher Columbus statue stands outside Columbus City Hall in Columbus, Ohio. A petition has asked for a Columbus statue in Cleveland to be replaced with one of Chef Boyardee. Raymond Boyd/Getty