Columbus Day is no more in Los Angeles, California – at least at the city level.
The L.A. City Council voted 14-1 to dump Columbus Day as a city-recognized holiday for Indigenous Peoples Day which will be celebrated on the second Monday in October, according to reports. Natives of every stripe – Aztecs, Diné, Lakota, and more – descended upon City Hall on August 30 to speak in favor of the shift they say sheds light on the atrocities Columbus and his men committed upon the indigenous people they encountered in 1492.
Chrissie Castro, vice chairwoman of the Los Angeles City-County Native American Indian Commission, told the Los Angeles Times that it was imperative to “dismantle a state-sponsored celebration of genocide of indigenous peoples.”
But not everyone rang in the vote with excitement.
Ann Potenza, president of Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California, said during public testimony prior to the vote that Italian-Americans wish to celebrate indigenous people, but that they “just don’t want it to be at the expense of Columbus Day,” the Times reported.
Approbation for the vote was nearly instantaneous on social media, as was the condemnation from supporters of Columbus who argue that the navigator was merely a man of his time and should not be judged by 21st century standards.
According to historians, Columbus was a documented slave-trader for the Portuguese before his transatlantic voyage in the 15th century. A contemporary of Columbus, Franciscan Monk Bartolomé de las Casas, would later inform the Columbus’s benefactor, the Spanish crown, of the navigator’s vicious exploits upon the indigenous people of the Caribbean, such as dismembering men, women, and children, and feeding the flesh of babies to dogs.
Meanwhile in New York, a bust of Christopher Columbus was found decapitated in at a park in Yonkers. “It’s very upsetting that American values have sunken to the level they are today,” Pat Gamberdella, who discovered the headless monument, told NBC New York. “It’s unfortunate because I did go up there and I did see it all smashed.”
The beheading of the bust in Yonkers is just the latest defacing of monuments to the explorer who failed to find a direct route to China. With the widespread removal of statues to confederates following the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, monuments to Columbus have been smashed, decapitated, and doused with fake blood in protest of his brutality upon indigenous peoples.
Columbus Day remains a federally-recognized holiday. The new holiday in Los Angeles will remain a paid day off for Los Angelinos, the Times reports.
Culture Editor Simon Moya-Smith contributed to this report.