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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Friday, September 10, 2004

Colorado AIM's Press Release about convoy of conquest

This article appeared in today's Rocky Mountain Post.

Columbus Day protest brews

Parade will continue, opponents will mass

By April M. Washington, Rocky Mountain News
September 10, 2004

The saber rattling over the Columbus Day parade began Thursday, a week after Denver granted an Italian group a parade permit.

The American Indian Movement called on supporters to wage a massive protest against the Oct. 9 parade near Coors Field.

AIM did not apply for a parade permit, saying it instead proposed that the Italian group rename the parade in honor of "Italian Heritage Day" - a proposal that's been made before.

"Our hope was that they would try to take their parade to a different moral plane so we wouldn't get into a competition again," said Glenn Morris of AIM, which has protested the Columbus Day parade in Denver on and off since 1990. "We're calling for a nonviolent, direct action against racism in the streets of Denver on the day of Columbus hate speech."

Protesters al-so urged Mayor John Hickenlooper to condemn the parade and create a new model for transforming the holiday.

George Vendegnia, the Columbus Day parade organizer, denounced the protesters' "usual tactics" and said he would not meet with leaders or the mayor again this fall to try to reach common ground.

"We, as Americans, have the right to hold the parade under any name we like," said Vendegnia. "It's a national holiday on the calendar in every state. As long as it remains one, we'll celebrate it."

In recent years, Denver's Columbus Day events have become a part of a debate over whether Christopher Columbus - a heroic explorer to some and murderer of native people to others - should be revered or hated.

The threat of protest comes despite the city's efforts in recent months to prevent clashes between Italian and American Indian groups.

In the article, George Vendegnia, once again, displays his ignorance by claiming that Columbus Day is a national holiday in every state. Apparently, he's never seen what that day is celebraed as, in South Dakota.

Mayor John Hickenlooper was challenged to condemn the parade because the previous mayor, Wellington Webb, displayed the moral courage to condemn the KKK rallies held, in Denver, in the early 1990's. Colorado AIM feels that Hickenlooper might have the internal fortitude to match the efforts of his predecessor.

Also, no one from Colorado AIM is asking to meet with anyone from the SOI. As our Press Statement explains, we've conducted the Four Direction March for the past three years, in order to show them, by example, how one holds a respectful march. This year is the fourth year and the cycle is completed for such a model. That 4 years ends on Friday night and Colorado AIM is bound by no pledges of any sort, beginning on Saturday morning.

This is the press release that was quoted from in the article

COLORADO AIM Denounces Sons of Italy,
New Generation plans for "Convoy of Conquest" in LoDo

AIM Calls for Massive Opposition to Racism on October 9

Once again, the Sons of Italy (SOI) and their cohorts, have wasted an opportunity to transform a day of distrust and animosity into a mutually-respectful, multicultural celebration of Italian heritage. The SOI has again obtained a permit for its racist and bigoted celebration of the Indian-killer and slave trader, Christopher Columbus.

Last year, as for the past three years, the Transform Columbus Day Alliance, of which Colorado AIM is a member, has invited and requested (see attachment) the organizers of the Columbus hate speech display, to abandon the veneration of one of the most repressive figures in the history of the Western Hemisphere.

Last year, a respected American Indian elder, the late Wallace Black Elk, and Columbine High School massacre' survivor, Richard Castaldo, jointly delivered a request for the Columbus marchers to abandon Columbus. Instead, the request suggested that a common ground be found, upon which people from all communities in the Denver region could join to celebrate Italian-American culture, and all cultures. The request was not only refused, it was ridiculed by the SOI.

Colorado AIM, believing that more progressive leaders in the Italian-American community might inspire a change of heart among the SOI, did not compete for a parade permit for the weekend of October 9th. The SOI proceeded with its plan to continue its selfish, anti-American Indian escapade, without regard for the harm that it creates to the people of Denver, and without regard to historical accuracy or to common decency.

The SOI calls its travesty a "parade," but it clearly is not a parade. Parades have balloons and laughing children and a festive atmosphere. What occurs in honor of Columbus is a "Convoy of Conquest" a "Procession of Prejudice." There are no festive moments, no squealing children, no inclusive celebrations. Instead, there are lines of Hell's Angels bikers, a few semi-trucks, and some stretch limos and Humvees to compensate for the ridiculously small size of the entire event. Any eyewitness for the past few years can attest that this "parade" does not even have any spectators, unless one counts the 600 riot-clad Denver Police who are required to defend the racists.

Some might ask, if the parade is so ridiculous and pitiful, then why protest it? Colorado AIM's position is this: the celebration of Columbus Day is the celebration of the destruction of indigenous peoples and nations, pure and simple. Columbus Day began as a state holiday in Colorado in 1905, and Colorado AlM feels a unique responsibility to confront the racism inherent in the holiday, in its birthplace.

The "Convoy of Conquest" which is scheduled for Saturday, October 9th, is designed for one purpose - and that purpose is not the celebration of Italian pride. The purpose is the assertion of power, the assertion that those who came to conquer indigenous peoples have won in their mission, and to reinforce (with the protection of the Denver Police Department SWAT Team) that they can flaunt their domination through their hateful, anti-Indian displays.

For the past four years, the Transform Columbus Day Alliance has attempted to provide an alternative model for the people of Colorado and America. We have brought together the All Nations - Four Directions March, to prove that respectful, multiracial cultural celebrations are not only desirable, but are achievable. We have brought thousands of people together, from across the continent, in our hope that Columbus hate speech might be abandoned, but the SOI keeps the hatred alive.

In response to the SOI’s blatant, bigoted insistence:

* Colorado AIM calls for all people of conscience to confront this ''Convoy of Conquest." We call for non-violent, direct action against racism in the streets of Denver on the day of the Columbus hate speech, Saturday, October 9, 2004,

*Colorado AIM calls on Mayor John Hickenlooper to condemn the racism inherent in the celebration of Columbus, and to create a new model for transforming the Columbus holiday, in Denver, its birthplace.

* Colorado AIM calls on all elected officials to transform the hateful Columbus legacy by replacing Columbus holidays and celebrations with events and holidays that are more historically accurate and respectful.

* In the coming days, Colorado AIM will announce plans for a national campaign to transform the Columbus legacy nationally and internationally.


At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I give thanks to AIM for helping to educate us on these important issues.

For the viewpoint of the Order Sons of Italy in America see http://www.osia.org/public/culture/columbus.asp

Or contribute to the world-wide collaboration on Columbus Day at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbus_Day


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