Columbus Day Parade in downtown Denver continues amid controversy

DENVER – Two dueling events marked a controversial history in Denver Saturday.

A parade to honor Christopher Columbus’ Atlantic crossing was held in front of the Capitol building at the same time several rallies to protest the Columbus Day event were held. None of the events were well attended.
Denver7’s Amanda del Castillo spoke with groups on both sides of the controversy Saturday.

Dr. Rita DeFrange, president of Denver’s Columbus Day Parade Committee, called Columbus a navigator who paved the way to the Western world.

However, Tessa McLean with the Colorado American Indian Movement referred to Columbus as someone who never stepped foot in Colorado, but instead raped, murdered, and forced colonization on indigenous people.

The Mile High City was the first to celebrate the now federally recognized holiday back in 1907. Since then, the Columbus Day Parade has had a contentious history in Denver. In years past, protesters have poured fake blood on participants and blocked the parade route.

McLean acknowledged the disruptions.

“In the past, we have confronted the parade and stopped the parade, because we don’t want people to celebrate racism,” Mclean said.

On Monday, the Denver City Council voted to honor the second Monday in October as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

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