Tuesday, October 07, 2003 - The Transform Columbus Day Alliance vowed Monday to disrupt any march this weekend that honors Christopher Columbus, and announced two events that group leaders say will transform the annual parade into a celebration of all cultures.
Glenn Morris, of the Colorado's American Indian Movement, said they are again asking Columbus Day parade organizers to remove the explorer's name and make it a parade celebrating Italian culture. But if the Columbus proponents refuse as they have every year since 1989, protesters will try to block Saturday's parade.
"If there is a parade honoring Christopher Columbus, there will be opposition to those efforts," said Morris, who compared the legacy of Columbus to the Nazis and American slavery. "Cultural celebrations need not be hateful, they need not be divisive, they need not be destructive."
Native Americans and other groups charge Columbus with the genocide of native people after he traveled to the Americas. Some Italian-Americans say the explorer is a symbol of their culture.
The two groups have clashed over the issue for more than a decade, and two years ago more than 150 people were arrested while disrupting the parade.
Mayor John Hickenlooper met with both parade organizers and Columbus parade opponents Monday. It appears the parade will continue, as will the protests.
"Both sides said there is a reasonable solution," said Hickenlooper spokeswoman Sarah Elliott. "They disagree as to what that is, of course."
Parade organizers did not return phone messages seeking comment.
The alliance, a coalition of groups opposing the parade, also announced a Four-Directions march Friday evening that will converge on Cuernavaca Park to celebrate multiculturalism.
The Native American Student Organization will also march from the Auraria campus to the state Capitol on Saturday morning.
Columbine survivor Richard Castaldo, an Italian-American, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu also have come out against a Columbus Day parade.