On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to officially replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the measure to replace Columbus Day was passed with a 14-1 vote, but was met with opposition by the Italian community.
Ann Potenza, president of Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California, said, “On behalf of the Italian community, we want to celebrate with you,” however, “we just don’t want it to be at the expense of Columbus Day.”
Councilman Joe Buscaino, who is a first-generation American from Italy, proposed creating a holiday to celebrate “all of the diverse cultures in the city.” He stated, “All of our individual cultures matter,” and asked the other members of the city council to refrain from trying to “cure one offense with another.”
Buscaino’s measure to change the name of Columbus Day to something inclusive of all cultures, and also and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on Aug. 9, was defeated 11-4.
Chrissie Castro, vice chairwoman of the Los Angeles City-County Native American Indian Commission, said the point of getting rid of Columbus Day would be to “dismantle a state-sponsored celebration of genocide of indigenous peoples.”
“To make us celebrate on any other day would be a further injustice,” she continued.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who happens to be a member of the Wyandotte Nation tribe, said changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day is a form of “restorative justice.” He also said it would be righting a “historical wrong.”
Councilman Mike Bonin, who the LA Times notes is the great-grandson of Italian immigrants, called Columbus Day an affront to his Italian heritage and those who came to America to “build something and not to destroy something.”
He said, “This gesture of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day is a very small step in apologizing and in making amends.”
O’Farrell dispelled the notion that the move was anti-Italian.
“We are not creating a racial conflict,” he said. “We are ending one.”
Like Columbus Day, the new Indigenous Peoples Day will be a paid holiday for city employees.
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