Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the first Black lesbian to be elected mayor of a major U.S. city, stopped a deal between the Chicago Park District and an Italian-American group that would have allowed a statue of Christopher Columbus to be exhibited during a parade, a suit filed Tuesday alleges. The suit also accused Lightfoot of making obscene remarks including "My dick is bigger than yours and the Italians."
The suit was filed by former Chicago Park District deputy general counsel George Smyrniotis against the city and Lightfoot, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Smryniotis alleges in the suit that the district's top attorney, Timothy King, and then-superintendent Michael Kelly told Smryniotis that they had wanted another suit by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans against the Park District after Lightfoot removed Columbus statues from Chicago to be settled "as soon as possible."
He says he then negotiated with the Italian-American group's lawyers to reach a deal. They eventually made an agreement to have a statue featured at the annual Columbus Day parade last fall.
King approved it, hoping to make good with the Italian-Americans, the Tribune reports. They also began talks about removing the statue permanently.
The lawsuit alleges that when Lightfoot heard of the plan, she said she would cancel the parade's permit, and she ordered an immediate Zoom call.
On that call, Smyrniotis says that Lightfoot "proceeded to berate and defame" the lawyers and questioned their credentials.
Lightfoot told them "not to do a f****** thing with that statue without my approval."
"Get that f****** statue back before noon tomorrow or I am going to have you fired," Lightfoot also said, according to the suit.
She is also accused of making obscene comments to Smyrniotis and King.
"You make some kind of secret agreement with Italians. ... You are out there stroking your dicks over the Columbus statue, I am trying to keep Chicago police officers from being shot and you are trying to get them shot," Lightfoot allegedly said. "My dick is bigger than yours and the Italians, I have the biggest dick in Chicago."
Smyrniotis says the comments defamed him by claiming he couldn't do his job, according to the Tribune. He quit last month. King also quit.
The city told the Tribune it would not comment.
A lawyer for the Italian-Americans, Enrico Mirabelli, told the paper he believes Smyrniotis's allegations bolster his own lawsuit against the city.
"Presuming the mayor has been accurately quoted, her comments give proof to the claim that she has wrongfully interfered with my client's contract with the Chicago Park District in a degree that is unprecedented," Mirabelli explained.
Ron Onesti, president of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, told the Tribune he's "literally outraged that someone in her position would ever use words like that to refer to any group of individuals."
"When will it end with the disrespect?" he added.