PUEBLO — The Pueblo City County Library District Board of Trustees voted down a proposal Thursday night on whether to take responsibility for the Christopher Columbus statue and to develop a plaza on library property.
The proposal was presented by city council to develop the plaza to include other statues of historical significance in order to bring a more diverse display of social justice, equality, and race relations.
Following the decision to reject the proposal, PCCLD Executive Director Jon Walker released the following statement:
“The Library District was presented with a proposal from the City of Pueblo and the Pueblo City Council President regarding the Christopher Columbus statue located on Abriendo Ave. across from the Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library. The proposal asked the Library District to take responsibility for the current median location of the Columbus statue as well as develop plans to create a plaza with additional statues on library property adjacent to the Columbus statue.
It is the position of the Pueblo City-County Library District Board of Trustees that this particular proposal is not acceptable. However, it must be clearly stated that the library district supports social justice, racial equality, and community harmony. While the library district does not view the City’s proposal as a proper role for the library, the library district supports a peaceful resolution to the controversy and stands ready to help both within its means and within the mission of the institution.
The Library will continue to serve as a foundation to the Pueblo community, offering welcoming and open facilities, encouraging the joy of reading, supporting lifelong learning and presenting access to information from around the world. The Library serves as a place for the free and open exchange of ideas. It is our hope that the City and citizens of Pueblo develop an equitable and well-considered resolution to this complex issue."
Columbus Day is no longer considered a holiday in the state of Colorado, but that did not stop this year's celebration from taking place on Abriendo Ave. Governor Jared Polis signed a bill to change the day to Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini Day starting this year. Absent at this year's event were protesters who have rallied near the statue since the summer.
Columbus Day supporters like Stimmle said the day is not about Christopher Columbus or his statue at the Christopher Columbus Piazza, instead, it's about celebrating Italian heritage. "We're about pride of where our ancestors came from and we're about helping people," said Stimmle.
The decision by the library board leaves the future of the display in question as attempts at mediation by Mayor Nick Gradisar did not reach a solution this summer.