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News :: Human Rights
People Take to the Street on 100th Anniversary of Columbus Day
08 Oct 2007
53 arrested protesting Columbus and the beginning of the slavery and
genocide of indigenous people at Columbus Day Parade in Denver yesterday.
People Take to the Street on 100th Anniversary of Columbus Day
53 arrested protesting Columbus and the beginning of the slavery and
genocide of indigenous people at Columbus Day Parade in Denver yesterday.


[good photo of rally before protest at colorado.indymedia.org]

People Take to the Street on 100th Anniversary of Columbus Day
by Clayton Dewey
Colorado Indymedia

On Saturday, October 6th, over 500 people marched against the legacy of
Columbus and in favor of a world based on respect for all peoples and
honor for the earth.

The day started in the morning with a Four Directions March, each
direction representing a color from the Medicine Wheel. The marches
converged at the State Capitol which was followed by a lively rally.

People then proceeded to the parade route where hundreds stood in the
street to defy what people have dubbed the "convoy of conquest."

The police attempted to give dispersal orders but the crowd continually
cheered to the point that their deafening chants would drown out the
police commands. Finally those willing to risk arrest were left in the
street, linking arms and chanting while supporters cheered them on and
heckled the police.

Despite the fact that all of the protesters participating in the civil
disobedience acted in a non-violent manner the entire time the Denver
Police escalated their tactics by putting protesters in pain compliance
holds, something that was not used in past civil disobedience situations.
At least one person was also beaten to the point of bleeding after someone
opened a fire hydrant. Denver Copwatch, a local police monitoring group,
commented that "The use of force by police, particularly the extended
periods those detained endured pain compliance holds, constitutes a
significant human rights violation."

In addition to excessive force and intimidation by the police, there were
also undercover cops dressed in stereotypical anarchist garb wearing
bandannas and attempting to spark disruptions, possibly to provoke a
police riot. These actions are supported by several witnesses and were
even videotaped. Materials will be released as soon as possible.

Many suspect that the trumped up police presence and heavy handed approach
to the peaceful demonstrators was meant as a message to those planning on
protesting the Democratic National Convention that is scheduled to be held
in Denver in August.

While the police dragged protesters onto buses, a handful of parade
supporters were there engagin in several shouting matches. Some of the
more interesting exchanges were when a man told protesters to "go learn
about your country." To which someone responded, have you ever been on a
reservation? Pine Ridge is a Third World Country. The man said he would
refuse to ever visit a reservation and that the reason so many Native
Americans live in poverty is because they drink away their money and waste
it on casinos.

The parade itself was marked by the same in your face racism. One
contingent was lead by a man dressed in a caricatured Native American
costume while the other wore a Conquistador outfit. The people trailing
them held up signs of all the different cities and townships that take
their name from Columbus. While the parade goers may not have recognized
it, the display was one of the most pointed analyses of how deep the
Columbus legacy has been institutionalized in our country.

A couple politicians were there to show their support for the slave trader
Columbus, including Tom Tancredo, the infamous Colorado Congressman and
Republican candidate for President who has speerheaded the fight against
immigrant communities, Muslims and just about anyone who isn't white. Some
of the many racist positions he holds include advocating the bombing of
Mecca and other holy sites if the US were attacked by Islamic militants,
opposing the fact that Denver Public Library has books in Spanish and
classes for Spanish-speakers, and calling for the end to race-based
caucuses in Congress.

The parade was interuppted several times by protesters entering the street
and the crowd watching the spectacle was overwhelmingly there to voice
their opposition to the hate speech going on.

The Christopher Columbus statue in downtown Denver was also defaced. A
banner was draped over the body decrying over 515 years of colonialism.
His hands were spray painted red to signify the genocide of the Taino
people Columbus began.

After the protests, people rallied outside the Denver City and County
Building where 88 people were held.
Protesters were released slowly, one by one, Saturday night, each
receiving an applause from those rallying in solidarity outside the city
jail. Police still harassed a couple of people as they left the city jail,
including one man who was pulled over for a suspicious reason, and
supposedly because his plates didn’t match his car. Some suspect racial
intimidation because the car had indigenous symbols on it.

At least one person is still in custody, being charged with assaulting an
officer, which is considered a felony. He was apprehended when he entered
the street to stop the parade as it was moving but it is still unclear
what actually happened. Updates will be posted to the
colorado.indymedia.org as they develop.




Denver: 83 protesters arrested at Columbus Day Parade

Saturday, October 06 2007 @ 10:13 PM PDT

RaceProtesters blocked the Columbus Day Parade route in Denver Saturday
and poured a bucket filled with fake blood and dismembered baby dolls onto
the street as police arrested 83 people, including American Indian
Movement activist Russell Means. At least 10 of those arrested face
resisting arrest charges, while most face charges of blocking a parade
route and/or interfering with a peaceful assembly, Denver Police spokesman
Sonny Jackson said. The parade through downtown Denver was delayed about
an hour.

83 protesters arrested at Columbus Day Parade

By Associated Press
October 6, 2007

Protesters blocked the Columbus Day Parade route in Denver Saturday and
poured a bucket filled with fake blood and dismembered baby dolls onto the
street as police arrested 83 people, including American Indian Movement
activist Russell Means.

At least 10 of those arrested face resisting arrest charges, while most
face charges of blocking a parade route and/or interfering with a peaceful
assembly, Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said. The parade through
downtown Denver was delayed about an hour.

George Vendegnia, one of the organizers of the parade, said the protest
and delay was planned for and caused minimal disruption.

"With this protest, it's just motivating people more to be back next year
and exercise their right to participate in an American holiday," Vendegnia
said.

No serious injuries were reported to either protesters or police.

Among those seen being led away in handcuffs was Glenn Morris, an
associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado and
one of the organizers of the All Nations/Four Directions March, a march in
protest of the parade.

Denver's parade, which was started in 1907, has a troubled history of
arrests and confrontations between Columbus supporters and detractors.
Protesters have called him a slave trader who touched off centuries of
genocide and oppression against native people. Supporters say he was a
brave explorer who opened a new world and the parade is an American
holiday to be celebrated.

Colorado is credited with being the first to make Columbus Day a state
holiday, which later became a federal holiday. The parade is touted as
being one of the first in honor of Columbus.

Morris and other organizers earlier this week said they were angered with
last year's use of re-enactors of a 19th century U.S. Army Cavalry unit to
carry the flag before the start of the parade. They likened the use of the
soldiers, who wore uniforms similar to those used during the Indian Wars
of the late 1800s, to nooses used to intimate black students in the
central Louisiana town of Jena.

A message left for Morris was not immediately returned.

Vendegnia said the re-enactors did not participate this year because of a
scheduling conflict.




Columbus Day protest in Denver leads to arrests
Sat Oct 6, 2007 6:26pm ET145


By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - About 75 protesters, including American Indian activist
Russell Means, were arrested on Saturday after blocking Denver's downtown
parade honoring the Italian-born discoverer Christopher Columbus, an event
they denounced as "a celebration of genocide."

Police loaded protesters onto buses after they refused orders to disperse.
Most will be charged with obstruction of a roadway or disrupting a lawful
assembly, Denver Police Lt. Ron Saunier said.

Police delayed the parade's start for more than an hour as they tried to
head off confrontations.

American Indian groups and their supporters have disrupted the city's
annual Columbus Day parade every year for nearly two decades, leading to
clashes with Colorado's Italian-American community over the century-old
celebration, the longest-running such commemoration in the United States.

Columbus Day, marked this year on October 8, is an official holiday for
most U.S. federal government workers, many public schools, state and local
agencies and the U.S. bond market. It recalls the October 12, 1492,
landing of Columbus in the Americas on his search for a naval route to
India, an event that spawned an era of European interest in the New World.

Means, talking to Reuters before his arrest, said Columbus was the "first
trans-Atlantic slave trader" after landing in the Americas in 1492. He
said Columbus started centuries of oppression of native peoples.

"By all accounts, Christopher Columbus was personally responsible for
thousands of deaths of the original inhabitants of this hemisphere," Means
said.

Parade organizer George Vendegnia of the Sons of Italy said his group
would honor Columbus' legacy until the U.S. Congress changed the holiday's
name. Some cities including Berkeley, California, have already changed the
name to "Indigenous People's Day."

"It's a day for us to celebrate our heritage," Vendegnia said.

Parade opponent Glenn Spagnuolo, an Italian-American, said Columbus'
legacy should not be celebrated.

"To honor someone who, by his own writings, was a slave trader, is
immoral," he said. "I don't see any of my Italian culture in celebrating
the occupation and destruction of native cultures."

This work is in the public domain
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