Los Angeles To Replace Columbus Day

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The Los Angeles City Council has voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day.

The measure was supported by indigenous activists, though Italian-American groups sought to retain Columbus Day and honor indigenous people on a different date, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The U.S. has traditionally celebrated Columbus Day on the second Monday of October. Christopher Columbus landed in America on Oct. 12, 1492.

"This gesture, of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, is a very small step in apologizing and in making amends," Councilman Mike Bonin said, according to the Times.

Ann Potenza, president of Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California, argued in favor of having a day for aboriginal people at a different time of year.

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"On behalf of the Italian community, we want to celebrate with you," she said. "We just don't want it to be at the expense of Columbus Day."

However, Native American activist Chrissie Castro rejected that approach.

"To make us celebrate on any other day would be a further injustice," said Castro.

Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, a member of the Wyandotte Nation in Oklahoma, maintained the decision was a correct one.

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"We are not creating a racial conflict," added O'Farrell. "We are ending one."

Other cities, including Phoenix, Albuquerque, Portland and Seattle, have already replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day. In Los Angeles, Indigenous People's Day will continue to be a paid public holiday.

A similar debate is taking place in New York, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to participate in a Columbus Day parade Oct. 9. De Blasio argues that the event is a display of Italian heritage.

The mayor has appointed a commission to decide on which "symbols of hate" should be removed from the city. One under consideration is a Columbus statue at Columbus Circle.

"I will wait for the commission, as I said Christopher Columbus is a controversial figure to many of us particularly in the Caribbean and I think that that has to be looked at, when you have to look at history we have to look at it thoroughly and clearly," City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told WNBC.

The NYPD Columbia Association, an organization which promotes awareness of the contributions made by Italian-Americans and Italians in the U.S., said that it "strongly condemns" the proposed removal of the statue.

Republican Rep. Dan Donovan declared that if the statue is removed, it would be welcomed in his constituency of Staten Island.

Sources: Los Angeles Times, WNBC / Featured Image: Derek Jensen/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Torrey W. Lee/Wikimedia Commons, Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

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