Columbus Comes Down: How a ‘Symbol of Atrocity’ Finally Became a Moment of Healing

Nov 15, 2018
3:13 PM
Originally published at L.A. Taco

LOS ANGELES — A statue of explorer Christopher Columbus that stood for 45 years in downtown L.A.’s Grand Park was removed Saturday after a healing ceremony and speeches by Native Americans, including people belonging to the city’s local Tongva/Gabrielinos and Tataviam nations.

The removal of the Columbus statue from the park comes after both the L.A. City Council and County Board of Supervisors voted last year to replace the October Christopher Columbus holiday with Indigenous Peoples Day, which the city celebrated for the first time last month.

“That’s what happens when the first Native American ends up on Los Angeles City Council,” said City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell during the removal event. O’Farrell is a member of the Wyandotte Nation and led the City Council effort to make the holiday switch.

“Last month, we celebrated the first ever Indigenous Peoples Day in the city’s history,” he said. “It is a natural progression that on this day, this statue, this symbol of atrocity, oppression, and subjugation also falls.”

The new holiday was officially first observed October 8 in a daylong celebration in Grand Park, and included a sunrise ceremony, 5K run, parade of nations, Native American powwow, panel sessions, a fashion show, and live music with Redbone and the Black Eyed Peas.

The removal event attracted an emotional and cathartic response from the people in attendance with some shouting and clapping when workers from subcontractor Carnevale & Lohr Inc. began to lift the six-foot bronze statue onto the back of a flatbed truck. The removal event attracted about 200 people to Grand Park.

(Photo by Erick Huerta)



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