AOC’s socialist protégé faces backlash in New York over stance on Christopher Columbus statue

Some things in life are self-evident. The sun rises in the east. Water is wet. Smoke indicates the presence of fire.

And when running for Congress in a district that is home to one of New York’s—and the country’s—largest Italian-American communities, you absolutely never diss Christopher Columbus, nor support removing his statue from New York City’s Columbus Circle.

Apparently, someone didn’t get that memo. And that someone, according to the New York Post, is Brittany Ramos DeBarros, an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez protégé who’s looking to represent New York’s 11th Congressional District, which includes the entirety of Staten Island and portions of Brooklyn. And also a whole lot of very fine and proud Italian-Americans who are unlikely to be pleased with DeBarros’ most recent comments.

DeBarros, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, outlined her thoughts on the statue in an endorsement questionnaire from something called the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, when asked “What is your position on removing the Christopher Columbus statue in Columbus Circle and if so, what should replace it?”

“It’s not in my district,” DeBarros wrote, “so it wouldn’t be a top priority for me in Congress but I support removing it and I think it would be ideal to replace it with some kind of tribute to the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island or the Lenape people specifically.”

Now that’s not the sort of sentiment calculated to garner much favor with the Italians, but then again, New York City is an epicenter of wokeness, so perhaps DeBarros is onto something. Ocasio-Cortez, whose example DeBarros wishes to emulate, also had choice words for the statue in her answer on the questionnaire.

“It is a decision that should be made by the community and I believe there is significant support for removing the statue from Columbus Circle,” she wrote. This was after mounting calls by leftist agitators in 2020 to have the statue torn down and Columbus Circle renamed.

But Angelo Vivolo, who is president of the Columbus Heritage Coalition, and was formerly the chairman of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, didn’t mince words.

“She’s offending the Italian-Americans in her district. Listen to your constituents!” he explained to the New York Post, referring to DeBarros. And he wasn’t alone in his condemnation. Nicole Malliotakis, the Republican Congresswoman who is now the district’s incumbent, observed that DeBarros represents yet another extreme Democrat who is out of touch with constituents and is in thrall to the increasingly lunatic woke fringe of the Left.

“The fact that Brittany Ramos DeBarros wants to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus from Columbus Circle is another example of woke politics run wild,” she said.

And even DeBarros’ Democratic primary challenger, former Representative Max Rose (who was unseated by Malliotakis in 2020), found her claim ridiculous.

“I don’t support removing the Columbus statue,” he explained to the New York Post. “It’s crazy that we’re even talking about this. Let’s talk about getting inflation down and union membership up instead of talking about statues.” After the notorious 2020 summer of statue desecration, some Democrats at least are apparently ready to move on—perhaps sensing that it’s not a winning platform with the public.

In any case, there seems to be little DeBarros, AOC, or any other congressional member can do about the statue. It was quietly designated a landmark and national monument by the state of New York in 2018, anticipating any attempt by the city to remove it or tear it down.


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Todd Jaquith


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