(PUEBLO, Colo.) — Some people living in Pueblo chose to protest a Christopher Columbus monument located on Abriendo Avenue, while indigenous people and activist groups gathered as far away from the statue as they could.

Activists say for them, Columbus represents colonialism, exploitation, and racism.

Pueblo is known for its ethnic diversity, which includes a large Italian community. The Order Sons of Italy gifted the Columbus monument to the city in 1905. The group gathered at the statue to celebrate, as they do year after year.

“The speakers addressed some very core values,” said Jerry Carleo of Order Sons of Italy. “Mostly one of a recognition of respect for all of the cultures that make up our area, the ongoing ability, and interest for each of those cultures to have an opportunity to express their feelings and their celebration for their own history.”

Others in Pueblo protested the ceremony with signs reading “take it down.”

“Everything we have ever learned about Columbus is a lie,” said Deborah Martinez with El Movimiento Sigue.

Martinez’s group supporting the effort to take the monument down chose to stay far away from the event.

“It’s just devastating to native people, to us to have to pass that Christopher Columbus statue every time we go down to the public library,” Martinez explained.

It’s the 530th anniversary of Christopher Columbus day and the 117th anniversary of the statue in Pueblo.

“That’s what this celebration is about,” Carleo said. “I think probably one of the best takeaways was a focus on values, the values that represent this community, and not what you’re hearing in these attempts to interfere.”

Indigenous people have gathered by the monument for years in protest.

“I’m not in favor of taking down a dedication to the Italians at all, but Columbus has to come down,” Martinez said.

In August 2020, a Columbus statue in Denver was taken down, making the Pueblo Columbus monument the last in the state.

“This is just standing there as a monument to stubbornness,” Martinez said.

Pueblo City Council continues to field proposals to remove or relocate the statue, but ultimately all have been voted down.