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Committee to consider removal of Christopher Columbus statue in Chula Vista

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Posted at 6:09 PM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 21:09:22-05

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - There were heated moments Wednesday while a group was defending the Christopher Columbus statue at discovery park in Chula Vista.

Chula Vista City Councilman John McCann, with members of the Knights of Columbus standing by his side, called for the statue to be left alone.

"You can't change history," he said. "We should be able to accept all groups, you can't lift one group by destroying another group."

"We're here to oppose the removal of the statue," said Rene Trevino, a member of the Knights of Columbus.

The statue, which has been in place for nearly three decades, has stirred up controversy in the past.

Thursday the city's Human Relations Commission will vote on a resolution to not only remove the statue and change the name of discovery park, but to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day in Chula Vista.

Last Columbus Day someone splashed red paint all over the statue, and before that someone plaque set in front of the statue was stolen.

"It's been a community family park and we've had opponents of Christopher Columbus use violence to vandalize and destroy the park multiple times, costing tax payers," said McCann.

Many people have called the meaning behind the statue and the name of the park both painful and offensive.

A woman in a car driving by the park Wednesday began shouting, "This is indigenous land, take that statue down!"

She went on to say Christopher Columbus was just the beginning of an attempted assassination of Indigenous peoples.

The topic caused people to clash at the park.

"You have these people trying to advocate for an idea that we're sick and tired of living under," said Rafael Bautista, who wants the statue removed.He was then confronted by a man who opposes the removal.

"What are you living under?" the man asked him. "What are you living under?"

At one point Chula Vista Police officers arrived at the park, but things had settled down.

"Instead of trying to argue over things that happened over 500 years ago, we should be tackling today's issues," said McCann.

Raeanne Herrera, a resident of Eastlake and part of the Jicarilla Apache Nation stopped by the park to offer her take.

"We can right the wrongs that have been done," she said. "That statue is the constant reminder of a beginning of a genocide. They tried, but they didn't."

She went on to say change needs to start with education.

"Native American issues were never taught in school, what was I taught? Oh, that the pilgrims and Indians got together and shared a meal. That's an absolute lie, it was a celebration for a massacre that occurred," she explained.

Both groups say they will continue effort to get their way, no matter what City of Chula Vista officials ultimately decide.

If Thursday's resolution passes, it will head to the full city council for the final decision.