HOUSTON — A local statue of Christopher Columbus has sparked some controversy in the last few weeks. The statue finally came down. It was a sight some feared they would never see.
“Finally its coming down it came down I couldn’t believe it,” Chance L. Landry, a local Native American from the Lipan Apache tribe, said.
Landry, along with others, had been demonstrating for years to get the Christopher Columbus statue removed from Bell Park in the Montrose neighborhood.
“It’s a slap in our faces really every time, every year we have been demonstrating peacefully out there. Making people aware that its not right to have Columbus as a hero,” Landry said.
The statue was donated to the city in 1992 by the Italian-American Organizations of Greater Houston. But in the past week the statue had been vandalized three times. Someone threw tomato sauce on it, painted it red and cut off 1 of its hands.
During Tuesday’s Houston City Council meeting, numerous people spoke out to get the statue removed.
On Friday, crews went out to the park and removed the statue. Putting it in the back of a truck.
The National Italian American Foundation issued a statement this week saying,
“And, therefore, we believe that to vandalize and remove the Columbus statues is culturally insensitive and divisive. These statues were paid for through the donations from Italian immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries. Although these new Americans had little in the way of monetary resources and were part of a marginalized community, discriminated against and exploited for their labor, they wanted to give what they could to have a statue of Columbus, representing their hope that one day they could be part of American life, achieve at higher levels and contribute to society.”
But for local native American’s this statue was a symbol of genocide. A hurtful reminder of their past.
“It’s a drop in the bucket but still it’s the beginning. It’s like saying 'OK we can start healing now.' These people recognize this man should not be up there,” said Landry.
Council Member Robert Gallegos has started the process to rename Columbus day in the city of Houston. He is working with other members to change the name to indigenous people day.
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