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Protests persist at annual Columbus Day event

Discussions continue about future of state holiday
Posted at 5:27 PM, Oct 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 13:57:00-04

PUEBLO — The annual celebration for Columbus Day in Pueblo goes back over a century, as dozens gather around the Christopher Columbus statue on Abriendo Avenue.

"The Italian community in Pueblo is such significant community," Pueblo District Attorney Jeff Chostner said.

Chostner was among four others who were inducted into the hall of fame Monday.

However, while the Italian community in Pueblo maintains the significance of Columbus on their heritage and America's history - many Native Americans say Columbus should not be celebrated.

"I think they need some time to sit back and reflect on themselves and you know, ask their selves 'who am I to relate to somebody who has the blood of thousands and thousands of not only man but women, baby and children on their hands?" Breeanna Guerra-Rodriguez said.

Guerra-Rodriguez came to protest Monday along with her two sons.

"Resistance is woven into our DNA and I want to make sure that gets handed down to them, that they always stand up for what is right that they always show solidarity," Guerra-Rodriguez said.

Protesters say they believe instead "Indigenous Peoples Day" should be celebrated. It's a move many cities and states have made across the country, and people say it's time Colorado does the same.

In the last few legislative sessions, lawmakers have introduced bills to get rid of Columbus Day and instead replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day or Colorado Day.

Representative Adrienne Benavidez (D-Adams County) said she will introduce the bill again in 2020. This past session the bill failed in a Senate committee.

Still, in places like Pueblo where the celebration and tradition continues, members of the Sons of Italy and other community members say there's a way to honor both.

"We know from involving ourselves in committee hearings over the last several years here's a very marked interest and demand for indigenous people to be recognize and we absolutely believe in that and support that right," said Jerry Carleo with the Pueblo Sons of Italy chapter.