An honor or an embarrassment: Pueblo split on Columbus Statue

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PUEBLO, Colo. — For the 115th year, the Son’s of Italy gathered for the annual Columbus Day celebration in Pueblo, a day after a crowd gathered to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day at the same location.

The group, Son’s of Italy, was founded in 1905 and according to it’s website, as a way to help Italians assimilate into American society.

The Son’s of Italy say the statue honors – not a person – but a historical event.

“We’re not saying Columbus was good we’re not saying Columbus was bad we’re saying it’s about the Italian people. There was 11 Sicilians that were hung in New Orleans. That were innocent. The president wanted to give the Italians something to make up for that misjustice. And it was Columbus’ 400th anniversary and he said that would be something good for the Italians,” said Geno Carleo, President of the Son’s of Italy in Pueblo.

Protesters of the statue disagree – saying their reasoning isn’t enough. They celebrated Indigenous People’s Day with a march on Sunday, October 11.

“What an embarrassment to Pueblo to have one of those statues,” said Rita Martinez, organizer of the Four Directions March.

Both sides have disagreed for years, and a solution about the statue has yet to be made by the City of Pueblo. Solutions proposed to appease both parties, which have included creating a new statue for Indigenous People by the library or creating a plaque at the Columbus statue.

The Son’s of Italy say they will continue to celebrate the holiday every year – despite the opposition.

“Everyone celebrates something. so we celebrate this. Every year, we will be there to celebrate it,” said Carleo.

According to KDVR FOX31 Denver, state lawmakers pushed for a new holiday, ‘Cabrini Day,’ to replace Columbus Day in Colorado.

Monday marks Colorado’s first Cabrini Day celebration; a day set side to honor Catholic Saint and humanitarian Frances Xavier Cabrini.

Cabrini Day is Colorado’s first state holiday honoring a woman, according to the Archdiocese of Denver.

FOX21 will continue to follow this story as the issue of the future of the statue pushes forward.

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