Calif. school named after bandido ignites debate

Critics: Tiburcio Vasquez terrorized Californians

FRESNO, Calif. - A new elementary school being built in California is embroiled in controversy after the school board decided to name it after one of the state's most notorious Old West bandidos.

The Alisal Union School District voted in December to name the Salinas school after Tiburcio Vasquez. Critics say he robbed and terrorized Californians in the 19th century before he was convicted and hanged for murder. They say naming a school after him glorifies violence.

But some Mexican-Americans say Vasquez was defending his land, culture and Spanish-speaking community from white settlers who overran California in pursuit of Manifest Destiny and gold.

The controversy has reignited the question of whose version of history should be honored and who is considered a hero in a multi-ethnic nation that often celebrates military figures.

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