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Pueblo's annual Columbus Day Celebration continues, despite protests

Columbus statue in Pueblo
Posted at 12:20 PM, Oct 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-11 20:15:02-04

PUEBLO — Columbus Day might not be recognized as an official holiday in Colorado, but this didn't stop the annual celebration from taking place at the statue of Christopher Columbus in Pueblo.

The Pueblo Christopher Columbus Piazza celebration has become a rallying point for Indigenous protestors and those who sympathize with the minorities in this country who view Columbus in a negative light.

"I hope young people take a notice that you have to sometimes protest, that you should say your opinion," said Gloria Martinez, one of the protesters at the ceremony.

However, Pueblo's Italian-American population views the holiday as a symbol of pride and part of their heritage. These opposing positions have historically created tension during the ceremony and the days surrounding the event.

"Indigenous people definition means if you were born on the land of that nation, you're indigenous. Guess what each one of us are? We're Indigenous People. Are we going to be protesting Indigenous People holiday? Of course not," said Jerry Carleo, one of the ceremony's organizers and a representative of the Sons of Italy.

Although several local Indigenous activism groups vowed not to hold any official protests during the event, this year's celebration still held on to the tension from the past. One individual could be seen with a sign saying "stop celebrating genocide."

District 3 Rep. Lauren Boebert was on hand to assist with the wreath-laying ceremony while several local officials talked about the importance of honoring Pueblo's various cultures.

Representative Boebert called Pueblo the "home of heroes," citing the four Medal of Honor recipients who lived in Pueblo.

Martinez says when she heard Representative Boebert was speaking at the ceremony, she reacted with "Anger" and "Disgust".

"To me she portrays women as gun loving people and we're not."

Colorado joined several states when it moved away from recognizing Columbus Day as an official holiday. Instead, Governor Jared Polis signed a bill into law that introduced Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini Day—a holiday honoring an acclaimed Italian-American Catholic nun—as the replacement for Columbus Day. Yet, Columbus Day is still recognized as a national holiday by the federal government.