For nearly 30 years, a bronze statue of Christopher Columbus has stood over Discovery Park in Chula Vista. During that time, the statue has been vandalized several times in protest. Last year, someone dumped red paint on the statue on Columbus Day.
On Thursday, the Chula Vista Human Relations Commission voted in favor of a resolution recommending the statue be removed permanently.
Prior to the vote, the commission heard testimony from dozens of people in favor of the resolution, including members of the Kumeyaay tribe.
"Columbus kicked off generations of genocide, there’s no denying that," one said.
"He did not commit murder. No where is there anything in history that shows that. He did not commit genocide, he did not invade, he did not steal, he did not erase a people’s existence," one speaker argued.
One believed Columbus is worth celebrating and thought the statue should stay put.
“Christopher Columbus is often unjustly blamed for everything that went wrong in the New World but he doesn’t get credit for everything that went right, this isn’t fair," he said.
The resolution also recommends Columbus Day be referred to as Indigenous People's Day in Chula VIsta, and calls for Discovery Park to be renamed with guidance from Kumeyaay Native American tribes.
The resolution merely puts the recommendations on the City Council's agenda, and councilmembers can vote to adopt or reject each individually.
As the meeting was underway, Unión Del Barrio, a non-governmental political organization based in San Diego, led a protest calling for the removal of the statue.
Last month, Chula Vista City Councilman John McCann said the statue should not be removed.
“You can’t erase history,” said McCann. “We should be uniting people over modern-day issues like homelessness, childhood education, instead of dwelling on issues that happened over 500 years ago that no one has the ability to change.”