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Columbus Day celebration in Pueblo marked by Boebert speech, protests

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 1:20 PM MDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:20 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., headlined Monday’s Columbus Day celebration in Pueblo at the Christopher Columbus Piazza on Abriendo Avenue.

A few hundred people gathered to celebrate the federal holiday under the Christopher Columbus statue that has previously been the source of vandalism and controversy over a potential removal. A few dozen protesters joined the crowd and were separated by fences from the people there to celebrate.

The state of Colorado no longer recognizes Columbus Day as an official state holiday, though many cities like Pueblo still celebrate the holiday recognizing Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, credited with discovering America in the 15th century. But many governments have distanced themselves from the holiday in recent years as evidence of the explorer’s brutality towards Native Americans and women has emerged.

Monday’s celebration was organized by the Order of the Sons and Daughters of Italy. They say that Columbus was an Italian hero who deserves to be celebrated.

While they acknowledge his wrongdoings, order representative Jerry Carleo said that “without Columbus’ voyage we wouldn’t even be able to have this conversation right now.”

With regard to the monument itself, Carleo told 11 News that his grandfather was one of the many immigrants who donated his own money to erect the monument in 1905. He says that the monument is important to Italian-American heritage.

11 News also spoke to some of the protesters who were advocating for the celebration of Indigenous People’s Day.

“We’re not here against Italian heritage, Italian culture; we’re not here against the Italian people or Italian history. We’re here against the history of genocide and rape and murder and systematic destruction of cultures that Christopher Columbus represents to us, the indigenous peoples of this land,” Joaquin Molina said.

The protesters said they would have no issue with the monument being displayed in a museum, but that it has no place in a public space like outside the Rawlings Library.

Boebert was a speaker at the event. The protesters jeered and chanted in an attempt to drown out her speech. But aside from the yelling, the groups were largely peaceful with each other.

The event ended in the late morning, and the two groups separated without any violence of vandalism to the monument like there has been in years past.

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