CHICAGO — A Northwest Side alderman called protesters who tried to tear down the Christopher Columbus statue this summer “savages,” drawing rebuke from another alderman Thursday.
Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th) made the comment during a contentious hearing in City Council on the $1.7 billion Chicago Police Department budget.
After noting 67 police officers have been shot at in 2020, Sposato mentioned a July 17 protest in support of Black and Indigenous people in Grant Park where police and protesters violently clashed, leaving dozens of protesters and police officers injured.
The city removed that statue as well as Columbus statues in Little Italy and South Chicago later that month.
“We didn’t mention anything about the riots, those savages at that Columbus statue riot,” said Sposato, who is Italian American. He then inquired about a police officer who lost an eye during the clashes.
“How many [police officers] were hurt at the riots?” he said. “What’s the status of some of those individuals that were … I don’t know what you want to call it.”
Later in the meeting, Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st), who also is Italian American, spoke out against the comment as Sposato cut him off to double down on his words.
“There was a point today where an alderman, somebody referred to protesters at the Columbus statue as savages and I’m very troubled … ” La Spata said.
“That was me, that was Nick Sposato,” Sposato interjected. “That’s what they were. Anybody who throws rocks and bricks and bottles at people is a savage.”
Ald. Sophia King (4th), acting chair of the committee, cut off Sposato for speaking out of turn, allowing La Spata to direct his question to Police Supt. David Brown.
“I don’t believe any resident of Chicago should be referred to as a savage, superintendent, I was wondering why you did not disagree with that characterization?” La Spata asked.
“I’m just not trying to be the alderman police,” Brown said of the exchange between the two aldermen. Brown then was given another opportunity to to respond to Sposato’s comment.
“Yeah, it’s just not within my purview to correct aldermen,” he said.
Sposato, a bombastic former fireman who is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, has drawn ire for comments made during City Council proceedings before.
Last year, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) posted a video on social media of Sposato calling him a “pile of sh**.”
At the time, Sposato said he made the comments after Ramirez-Rosa described Sposato as “anti-immigrant.”
On Thursday, Ramirez-Rosa took to Twitter to praise La Spata for calling out Sposato for the “savages” comment.
Sposato, elected to the council in 2011, was picked by Mayor Lori Lightfoot to chair the Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation.
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