Protesters urge Buffalo leaders to remove statue of Christopher Columbus in Columbus park

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Protesters in Buffalo are using Columbus Day to pressure leaders to remove a statue of the explorer.

Demonstrators gathered in Columbus Park Monday morning. They’re asking the city to rename the park and take down the statue. Protesters argue Columbus shouldn’t be celebrated.

“Whether we name this Indigenous Day or not most of what we are battling here is the celebration of somebody who committed unbelievable atrocities against native people,” said John Kane who was protesting.

This protest comes among a recent national push to rename the holiday Indigenous People Day.

Recently, Buffalo’s School District told the Buffalo News it would let students decide on what to call the holiday.

In response, The Federation of Italian-American Societies of Western New York calls the decision deplorable and accuses the district of putting one culture against another.

“The Federation of Italian-American Societies of WNY est. 1907 (umbrella organization for thirty Italian organizations and associations of Buffalo and Western New York) finds the Buffalo Board of Education’s Grass Roots contest to rename the Columbus Day – or as this year now called “Indigenous People’s Italian Heritage Day” deplorable, pitting one culture against the other and determining the future name of the holiday by a contest based on research projects from students and panel discussions from teachers and administrators. In the end there will be a winner and a loser and neither of our cultures should lose. This year the Board agreed to have both names on the holiday and therefore one will have to be removed. No culture should ever be judged or pitted against another. We celebrate our diversity in Buffalo and there is room for everyone at the table. We urge Superintendent Cash and the Buffalo Board of Education to reconsider this very ill advised contest.”

The Federation of Italian-American Societies of Western New York

Kane who is also a Native American says students should be educated on the topic before they decide.

“When you consider this almost first and foremost a school holiday it becomes even more important that real education is brought to bearer on this subject,” he said.

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