Police outnumbered marchers at the annual Columbus
Day parade Monday as most protesters kept their distance from what
was changed into a walk for peace after last month's terrorist
About 40 people walked through downtown praying the rosary and
holding paintings of the Virgin of Guadaloupe and small American
flags. There were only two people holding Italian flags and no
references to Christopher Columbus.
Daneen Olson, an Italian-American from Denver, wanted to pray
for peace even though she had never joined previous Columbus Day
parades. She planned to come before the United States began bombing
targets in Afghanistan.
Olson does not believe killing is ever justified and also thinks
Italian-Americans should reconsider continuing to march in honor of
Columbus, a man who American Indian groups say was a slave trader
responsible for killing indigenous people.
"I think it's important to be sympathetic to all people and if
it's bothering American Indian people then we should stop," she
Italian-Americans maintain they have a right under the First
Amendment to celebrate Columbus as part of their heritage.
Last year, 147 protesters were arrested after they blocked the
parade, the city's first since 1991. An agreement that would have
deleted references to Columbus in exchange for no protests
collapsed at the last minute.
There were no arrests Monday, Capt. Marc Vasquez said.
At the State Capitol, about 750 American Indian and other
activists from around the country gathered in favor of transforming
Columbus Day into a national day of unity. As the walk passed by, a
woman holding two signs chanted for the end of the holiday but the
group did not respond.
Even after the parade committee decided to hold what they called
"A National Day of Mourning" instead of a traditional parade, 10
Italian-American organizations decided to boycott. They argued it
was not right to hold such a controversial event while the country
Instead, those groups held a picnic fund-raiser for the
firefighters and police officers killed in the attack on the World
One man who did not give his name left the start of the parade
after a woman showed up with both an American flag and an Italian
"If they want to be causing controversy, they can but it's not
going to be with me," he said.
Rosanna Patrona-Aurand of Morrison, the woman who attached an
Italian flag to her baby stroller, said she was proud to be an
American but also thinks it's important to celebrate ethnicity.
"I think all of that contributes to America and I would hate to
see that all disappear," she said.
Parade committee member C.M. Mangiaracina, who led the group
along with a Roman Catholic priest, criticized the
Italian-Americans who stayed away from the parade.
"I hope they choke on their sandwiches. They should have been
here to pray with us," he said.
There were a number of events scheduled Monday, and many offices were closed. Here's a rundown:
COLUMBUS DAY EVENTS
8 a.m. - "Transform Columbus Day" protest at state Capitol.
10 a.m. - "Columbus Day 2001: A National Day of Mourning" procession and rosary to honor victims of terrorist attacks. Procession gathered at 15th and Welton streets and walked to the Denver City and County Building (pictured, right). The following Regional Transportation District bus routes will be detoured during the event: 0, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 15Ltd, 16, 20, 28, 32, 48, 52 and 83L.
11 a.m. - "Columbus Day of Remembrance" fundraiser for victims of terrorist attacks at Rocky Mountain Lake Park, northwest Denver. Candlelight vigil begins at 5 p.m. Proceeds go to Clear Channel Relief Fund.
COLUMBUS DAY CLOSURES:
All banks closed.
Post offices closed and there will be no mail delivery.
Colorado courts closed.
Denver trash collection will be on normal schedule.
RTD is running normal weekday schedule.
Attractions open Monday include the Colorado History Museum, Denver Zoo, Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Denver Botanic Gardens.