Celebration of Columbus Day is controversial issue across US


TAMPA, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Whether Christopher Columbus statues should stay or go — and whether Columbus should be celebrated on Columbus Day — have become divisive issues in cities across America.

Rioters in Portland, Oregon pulled down statues of former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln Sunday night.

The event was called “Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage.” Organizers said it was intended to be an anti-Columbus day event. The protests turned destructive.

Less destructive protests happened around the country at Christopher Columbus statues.

Protesters in Tampa put red dye at the base of the monument to represent Indigenous people killed.

“All we did was just bring education, and awareness to the people that were killed at his hand,” Alicia Norris said.

In Chicago, the Christopher Columbus statue was removed by the city this summer after protesters clashed with officers while trying to tear it down.

“That statue is a symbol of white supremacy. That statue is a symbol of a history that we need to acknowledge and divorce ourselves from,” Amika Tendaji said.

The Columbus statue in Waterbury, Connecticut was decapitated.

And Columbus statues were taken down by city leaders this summer in New Haven and Hartford.

But some Americans support the Italian explorer.

Even with no statue, Italian Americans still came together in Hartford on Monday.

“We thought it was very important that the different societies get together this morning and place a wreath there,” Louis Pane with the Italian American Heritage Group said.

The National Italian American Foundation says they support Columbus Day, and oppose public campaigns advocating for its elimination as a Federal holiday.

“NIAF strongly condemns the defacing of historic memorials and expects elected officials and law enforcement to protect these public memorials from further damage so that a substantive dialogue on their place in modern society can be had. We believe that Christopher Columbus properly represents the important values of risk and discovery that are at the heart of the American dream,” the National Italian American Foundation website says.

In Syracuse, New York, Italian Americans spent Columbus Day trying to save their Columbus statue after the mayor announced plans to take it down.

“For the city now to say we are taking it down is really a disservice to the Italian American community, and it is a slap in the face,” Nick Pirro of Syracuse said.

But others support the decision to remove the statue.

“We are trying to be respectful to the Italian community. It is nothing against them. But to us it has been a symbol of oppression,” Tadodaho Sidney Hill with the Onondaga Nation said.

President Donald Trump signed a proclamation commemorating Columbus Day. In the proclamation, he wrote that “radical activists’ are trying to undermine Columbus’ legacy.

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