As usual, politics on display at NYC Columbus Day Parade

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Monday, October 11, 2021
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The in-person Columbus Day Parade returned to New York City Monday, and like every year -- no matter if there's an election -- the event was heavy on the politics.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The in-person Columbus Day Parade returned to New York City Monday, and like every year -- no matter if there's an election -- the event was heavy on the politics.

This year, with Election Day just three weeks away, Republican mayoral candidate for Curtis Sliwa marched, but his Democratic opponent, Eric Adams, did not.

Rep. Tom Suozzi, who is considering a challenge to Governor Kathy Hochul, was asked how the new leader of New York was doing.

"I think she's doing a very good job responding to the different emergencies we face in the state," he said.

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He didn't have the same praise at the prospect of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio running for that office.

"I don't think he would do a good job at that," he said.

All politicians at the parade acknowledged that Columbus Day is a proud day for Italian-Americans, but this year, for the first time ever, a president also acknowledged this as Indigenous People's Day.

"For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures," Biden wrote in the Indigenous Peoples' Day proclamation. "Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples' resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society."

In a separate proclamation on Columbus Day, Biden praised the role of Italian Americans in U.S. society, but also referenced the violence and harm Columbus and other explorers of the age brought about on the Americas.

"Today, we also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities," Biden wrote. "It is a measure of our greatness as a Nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past - that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light, and we do all we can to address them."

Just about everybody at the New York City parade said it's both.

"Let's love and respect the Italian-American heritage," de Blasio said. "I'm very proud of it. Let's also acknowledge the history of Native Americans and support them."

Hochul followed suit with Biden.

"For the first time ever, I'm declaring this as Indigenous People's Day, and I have a proclamation which will be arriving shortly," she said. "But I also want to celebrate the heritage of thousands of Italian-Americans who came here as immigrants."

Historians now acknowledge Columbus as a particularly brutal conqueror who enslaved thousands of native and indigenous people.

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A separate Parade for Justice was held Monday in Brooklyn and Queens, but with more than two-million Italian-Americans in New York, politicians took care not to offend anyone.

"Now people want an Indigenous People's holidays also, that's fine also," Sliwa said. "But don't take away Christopher Columbus' holiday, because it's embraced by Italian-Americans and other."

Some New Yorkers want Columbus Day to go way altogether and are also calling for Columbus Circle to be renamed.

But that day, if it ever comes, is many years away.


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