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Protesters, counter-protesters clash over Christoper Columbus statue in downtown Pueblo

Posted at 8:46 PM, Jul 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-06 10:55:19-04

PUEBLO — For the second weekend in a row, a protest was held in the Mesa Junction over the removal of the Christopher Columbus monument.

It was a pretty tense situation Sunday as dozens of protesters and supporters of the monument clashed over its fate. The Pueblo Police Department had both sides of the streets barricaded off to protect each side protesting. Despite barricades, scuffles still broke out.

"I was having a peaceful, cordial talk with a guy over here. It was on amicable terms and then the next thing you know there is a fight and pepper spray being sprayed," said Citizen X.

Citizen X, as he would like to be called, attended the protest to call for the statue's removal. He says it needs to be removed because of what it represents for people of color.

"We're here to fight this statue, we're here fighting for years of oppression. We're fighting for inter-generational trauma that this statue and memory can bring," Citizen X said.

He says the monument has caused a divide in Pueblo. While the other side says there is a right and a wrong way to go about the removal and tearing it down is not the answer.

"If they're going to tear something down, we're going to stand in their way. If they want to legally move it, get a petition started and go through the judicial system. We'll get it done," Daniel said.

Rita Martinez has been fighting for the monument's removal for years. Recently, she had a meeting with the mayor to discuss the fate of the monument.

"We're trying to do it through civil tactics of working with the mayor. We've been at the table with the mayor and a bunch of young people involved in these protests as well as some of the other ones that have been involved with it for many years, " Martinez said.

Some protesters say while Christopher Columbus isn't the best choice for a monument, both sides need to come together to heal the divide that's been created.

"I feel like there is a way we can work through this together and build something that is bigger and better than the Christopher Columbus statue, but its going to take having a conversation," said Hilary Glasco.

Last weekend we heard from Patty Corsentino, who says her grandfather was one of the men who helped build the statue. She says is a symbol of unity.

"I don't want it to come down because that's a part of my grandpa. And my grandpa, oh gosh he would be well over 100, but he would be so sad," said Corsentino. "It was the immigrants that built this city. It really was. The Italians, the Mexicans, the Slovenians and everyone. That's who built Pueblo and that is why we are proud."

But for some, the removal of the statue isn't a solution. "I don't know what they are going to solve by removing the statue. It might make them feel better a little bit," said Michael Barnett.

If the statue is removed, some say it should be replaced with something that represents the people of the city.

Protesters say there will be another rally next weekend and every weekend until they see real change. News5 has reached out to Pueblo Police to find out if there were any arrests made at the protest.