A DAY OF CELEBRATION AND HONOR TO HIM?
FROM FOX NEWS: Denver Showdown Looms Over Columbus Parade
Friday, September 29, 2000
A tenuous agreement to revive Denver's Columbus Day parade has collapsed, with Italian Americans promising to march in the name of the legendary explorer despite protesters' promises to disrupt the event.
American Indians and other ethnic groups have complained that Columbus was a slave trader who committed genocide, and they have threatened to block the festivities if his name isn't removed from the event.
With the help of mediators from the United States Justice Department, it looked like a tentative agreement had been reached on Tuesday. The two sides reportedly had a pact: Parade organizers were to avoid references to Columbus and celebrate Italian heritage instead, if opponents promised not to disrupt the parade — which is being held Oct. 7, not the actual Oct. 9 holiday. But the deal collapsed after a dispute over how to word a press release.
"We won't be coerced anymore," said parade organizer Carlo "C.M." Mangiaracina. "Our free-speech rights under the First Amendment were violated by an agreement we were coerced into signing. We're not abiding by it."
"After seven years of peace, our position remains that there will never be a Columbus Day parade in Denver — not this year, not next year, not ever."
LeRoy Lemos Opponents continued to maintain that references to Columbus would not be tolerated and that plans for the parade should be canceled.
Denver permanently canceled the parade in 1992, fearing protests and violence from Native Americans. In the years since, the voices of other groups have joined in opposition.
"After seven years of peace, our position remains that there will never be a Columbus Day parade in Denver — not this year, not next year, not ever," said LeRoy Lemos, who represents a Hispanic community group called Poder, the Spanish word for power.
Mangiaracina said the revived event would be called the Columbus Day parade as it is all over America. He said that organizers had obtained a city parade permit last month, and criticized Denver officials for bowing to pressure to require that the explorer's name be removed from the permit.
Glen Morris of the American Indian Movement said he was disheartened that the agreement had fallen apart.
"If this turns out to be the case and they bring in Columbus, it will be a very disappointing development for the whole city," Morris said. "We thought we had a historic and mutually respectful agreement."
"Our free-speech rights under the First Amendment were violated by an agreement we were coerced into signing. We're not abiding by it."
Carlo "C.M." Mangiaracina
Mangiaracina complained that parade organizers and representatives from American Indian and Hispanic groups never met without federal Justice Department officials present. The organizers have contacted the American Civil Liberties Union to examine the government's role in changing the permit.
"The parade organizers apparently had a permit for a Columbus Day parade," ACLU lawyer Simon Mole said. "Then the city and U.S. Justice Department intervened and stipulated a number of conditions, after the fact. If the parade organizers failed to abide by those conditions, the permit would become void."
Denver Safety Manager Ari Zavaras said the city would not revoke the permit, even with organizers vowing to mention Columbus during the march.
"There are strong feeling in three different communities on this," he said. "People have a right to protest peacefully. But the city's mission is clear, to keep the streets of Denver safe. And we fully intend to do that."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
EXAMINING THE REPUTATION OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS
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