BOSTON (WHDH) - A coalition of indigenous organizers gathered on Boston’s waterfront Wednesday near the site of the city’s Christopher Columbus statue that was beheaded overnight to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
In a statement, representatives for the North American Indian Center of Boston, United American Indians of New England and IndigenousPeoplesDayMA said that they are demanding change amid this wave of civil unrest that has swept the nation and the globe.
First, they insist that all statutes and symbols honoring Columbus be permanently removed as they are symbols of white supremacy.
Next, they demand that cities and the Commonwealth abolish “Columbus Day” and replace it with “Indigenous Peoples Day.”
“This art installation [the Columbus statue] is representative of the state violence endured by Black and Indigenous peoples for over 500 years,” said Jean-Luc Pierite, President of the NAICOB Board. “Any attempt to erase our history through the restoration of the statue will be met by Black and Indigenous peoples asserting our rights and sovereignty. We call upon our relations to join us in peaceful, prayerful acts of protection. In this way, we will honor our ancestors.”
In addition to removing Columbus statues and celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday in October, the indigenous organizers are calling upon legislators in Massachusetts to support a ban on Native American sports team mascots, to support the bill to redesign the state flag and seal.
“It is time for everyone to acknowledge that this is a stolen land in a nation built by stolen peoples. We wish to express our solidarity with movements for Black Lives and against police violence,” Mahtowin Munro, spokesperson for IndigenousPeoplesDayMA.org and UAINE, said.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he does not condone the vandalism and the statue will be placed in storage for now, as the city considers its next steps.
“This particular statue has been the subject of repeated vandalism here in Boston and
given the conversations, we’re having now in the city of Boston and throughout the country, we are also going to take time to assess the historic meaning of the statue,” he announced.
Though, not everyone agrees with the statue’s removal.
“We find this absolutely atrocious,” Rayla Campbell said. “They should not be destroying our history.”
Bruno Girdiello got involved in a heated exchange with some of the opponents of the statue.
“After this, if they are really sincere right then you got to eliminate. We supposed to eliminate Thanksgiving, we supposed to eliminate Fourth of July? How about the statue of liberty,” he asked.
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