Christopher Columbus never set foot in the United States and he didn’t discover the Americas. In 1492, Columbus landed in Hispaniola – an area that people with their own culture, language, and traditions already inhabited. This led to the decimation of a large group of peoples, and made way for the colonization of the Americas. In recent years, we have seen how many cities across the United States have stopped celebrating Columbus Day, because it incorrectly celebrates the colonizers, instead of the Indigenous people who existed before 1492 and who resisted. October 8, 2018 marked the first time Los Angeles celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day, and on Saturday, the city also removed a 45-year-old Columbus statue from Grand Park.
On Saturday, about 100 people gathered to watch the statue be taken down. People broke out in applause and sang songs as the statue, which paid tribute to a dark time in history, was removed.
“The statue of Christopher Columbus rewrites a stained chapter of history that romanticizes expansions of European empires and exploitation of natural resources and of human beings,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who wrote a motion to replace Columbus Day.
While there’s a growing movement to right this wrong, there is still a lot of opposition to this shift. To the Italian-American community, Columbus remains an important part of their history. The first Columbus Day dates back to the 1890s, a time when Italians were targets of anti-immigrant sentiments. However, this glosses over the fact that Columbus was a violent instigator of genocide.
Below, check out how LA celebrated once Columbus’ statue was removed from Grand Park.