Columbus Day controversy comes to San Diego

SDSU Students call for abolition of holiday
Posted at 5:14 AM, Oct 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-09 11:27:48-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Students at San Diego State University are calling for the abolition of Columbus Day across the entire city.

They say it celebrates a man who stood for genocide, slavery and colonization.

"It sucks, to say it plainly" said Lane Yazzie, with the SDSU Native American Student Alliance. "We're praising this man who started genocide against Native Americans."

The group held a rally on campus last Thursday to promote the idea. They hung signs from Hepner Hall and had members of the Kumeyaay National play traditional songs to bless the ground.

But, Yazzie said, they haven't started a dialogue with school administration about any changes that could be made.

Right now, Columbus Day isn't listed on the school's academic calendar for the fall semester, and classes are still on as scheduled.

Around the city of San Diego, Columbus Day observance is mixed.

Courts, post offices and most banks are closed in observance of the holiday. So are any federal and state offices.

But the city government is still open. The same goes for libraries, most public schools and the landfills.

Even parking meters, which are usually free on holidays, will be enforced.

Other areas have already made the change. Last week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day. That follows the city of Los Angeles, which made the move in August.

Other cities, including San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis and Denver also use the second Monday in October to honor Native Americans instead of Columbus.

That doesn't sit well with some folks in the Little Italy neighborhood of San Diego.

"I'm proud to be an American," said Sal Busalacchi, an Italian-American whose family owns several restaurants around town. "But, I also like the idea that Christopher Columbus is Italian."

He suggests adding another holiday instead of replacing one that many people use to honor their Italian heritage.

That's not enough for the students at SDSU.

"Overall, I say abolish it, clearly," said Yazzie.