The second Monday of every October is a day some people may refer to as Columbus Day. Yesterday, a group of more than 300 people fighting to rename the holiday to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, gathered for the 2nd Annual Anti-Columbus Day Tour at the American Museum of Natural History.
Tensions quickly escalated when tour attendees encountered a small group of people on the front steps of the museum who were rallying in favor of not only Christopher Columbus but also President Trump.
A middle aged woman of Italian heritage who was part of the pro-Columbus group vocally praised Columbus’s expeditions while waving Italian flags in the air.
“Viva Italia! Viva Christopher Columbus! Viva Isabella!” the woman said. “If it weren’t for Christopher Columbus, we all wouldn’t be here today. There wouldn’t be a new world. We’d be stuck in Europe or Asia, or other filthy places. Anyone who hates Columbus hates Christianity and the development of the entire globe.”
While many were visibly upset and either walked away or said a few words in disagreement, Loaiza Yari di Rivera, from the Borikua Unity and Power Outreach, remained firmly standing despite the opposition.
“I know that we’re not going to change history,” said Rivera. “We’re not going to take back everything that happened, but by fighting for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the removal of Columbus statues, and the renaming of Columbus Circle, we are changing the way we look at each other and bringing awareness to the way we are currently oppressing and violating the rights of indigenous people.”
Despite the clashes, the tour proceeded as planned. The main organizers for the tour were from Decolonize This Place, a space that is action-oriented around indigenous struggle, black liberation, Free Palestine, global wage workers and de-gentrification. They continued to fight and press for for their three demands: to rename the day, remove the statue, and respect the ancestors.
“Puerto Rico and Standing Rock, we will continue to think of and fight for you,” said Rivera.
all images taken by Grace Moon