Mayor of Pueblo responds to Christopher Columbus statue protests

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PUEBLO, Colo.,– The mayor of Pueblo is speaking out after citations were issued at a protest calling for the statue of Christopher Columbus to be taken down on Sunday.

“We’re not gonna solve it on the streets or violence, were gonna solve it by having discussions and I’m trying to do that with both sides,” said Mayor Nicholas Gradisar.

Gradisar said he has met with the group, For The People – Pueblo and understands they are passionate about the statue being taken down, but says there are strong-willed people on the other side as well.

Organizers told FOX21 that they will continue to protest weekly until the statue is taken down and have a petition online. They say they may try and get the issue on the ballot for a vote.

Mayor Gradisar is encouraging counter-protesters to hold their own protest on a different day in order to avoid confrontation with protesters.

“I would certainly encourage people not to show up and counter-protest, to think they need to protect the statue or protect the police. The police department can certainly protect the statue when people are protesting there, as long as they don’t have to intervene and get between two different groups of people that are shouting at each other. That’s not the way I think to have a discussion,” said Gradisar.

The protests plan to be every Sunday, and the mayor says he is aware people are coming in from Pueblo to demonstrate.

Pueblo Police say they are aware of agitators that are showing up with bad intentions.

“Make an informed decision if you even should go to something like that. Obviously there’s other people that are just going to say ‘this is my opinion and I want you to know it.’ And that’s fine – and no problem at all… but you have to know that there are some people that come to those things with bad intentions,” said Sgt. Frank Ortega, Pueblo Police.

Pueblo Police say on Sunday, 66-year-old James Elvin Pospaphala was cited for disorderly conduct and 28-year-old Daniel Gillette was cited for interference and resisting arrest.

Police say there are cameras monitoring the statue and legal action will be taken if anyone vandalizes it.

>>Click here to see Sunday’s full story on the protest.

Stay with FOX21 for updates on this story.

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