Ceremony, demonstration held over new Columbus statue in Southin - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Ceremony, demonstration held over new Columbus statue in Southington

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Dozens of people protested a new Christopher Columbus monument in Southington on Monday. (WFSB) Dozens of people protested a new Christopher Columbus monument in Southington on Monday. (WFSB)
Supporters and protesters planned to be at a Christopher Columbus monuments dedication ceremony on Southington on Monday morning. (WFSB) Supporters and protesters planned to be at a Christopher Columbus monuments dedication ceremony on Southington on Monday morning. (WFSB)
(WFSB) (WFSB)
SOUTHINGTON, CT (WFSB) -

Columbus Day continues to be shrouded in controversy.

A demonstration was held in Southington as a monument was unveiled in honor of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus.

The monument in the town's municipal center was dedicated on Monday at 10:30 a.m.

Those in support and against were there.

Vote: Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples' Day?

"If you want to erect a statue, then put it in a museum where it can be put into its historical context," said Susan Dantino, Southington. 

The ceremony was packed. Dozens of protesters held signs.

Dantino's read "light a candle for those he murdered."

"I'm a grandmother!" she said. "I don't want my grandchildren learning lies, I want them to know the truth. And, we really do support the truth."

It happened as police investigate the defacing of two Columbus statues in Middletown's Harbor Park and New Haven's Wooster Square.

In New Haven, Keith Pratt was asked to stand guard as a member of a neighborhood crime-fighting group.

"Defacing public property is just breaking the law," Pratt told Channel 3.

Police in Middletown and New Haven said they are investigating the vandalism in their cities.

A national movement to replace the holiday is gaining momentum.

Statues of the explorer have been defaced around the country.

Protesters said the controversy is rooted in Columbus's legacy and his treatment of indigenous people.

The national movement calls for replacing Columbus Day with "Indigenous Peoples' Day."

"If you have a problem with Christopher Columbus statue here, well then maybe do it the right way not deface it," said Michael Stefanczyk of New Haven.

Los Angeles became the biggest city yet to stop honoring the explorer.

The move has some Italian-Americans outraged. They said eliminating the holiday is culturally insensitive.

"I was actually sitting next to one of the people who was against it, but she was willing to hear everything that was being said," said Antionnette Escott of Southington. "I think they should be willing to look at the other side of things."

"What [Columbus] did was say, 'hello I'm here! I'm going to live in your house, get out,'" said Shari Guarino of Southington. "You wouldn't like that, I wouldn't like it either."

Southington's statue was funded by private donations and several different groups, including The Knights of Columbus. It was a project that was worked on for years.

State Sen. Joseph Markley served as the keynote speaker and addressed both sides of the issue.

"Let us rejoice that whatever our opinion, we are together peacefully and respectfully all members of one community," Markley said.

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