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Destruction of statue, holiday renaming: 1-2 punch thrown at Italian Americans | READER COMMENTARY

A piece of the Christopher Columbus statue is pulled from the Inner Harbor in July. The destruction of the statue has rankled many in nearby Little Italy.
A piece of the Christopher Columbus statue is pulled from the Inner Harbor in July. The destruction of the statue has rankled many in nearby Little Italy. (Jerry Jackson)

Sorry, Baltimore Sun, but you got it wrong this time (“Unheeded history: Why Indigenous Peoples' Day is overdue,” Sept. 21). The destruction of the Christopher Columbus statue was not an act of a bunch of lawless protesters. It was aided and abetted by city officials who purposefully failed to oversee the demonstration. Then, instead of acting like this was vandalism and using city funds to repair the damage, they made independent people go retrieve the statue from the bottom of the harbor.

Now, they add renaming the holiday just a few weeks after these acts. This is not how people treat members of the community. The city needs to be sensitive to all of its members: Native Americans, Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, Hatians, etc. We need to build bridges, not use cancel culture to denigrate communities. Yes, Native Americans were harmed by Columbus. And the right thing to do is to commemorate the people who have lost so much. In many ways we have, but not as a coherent message of respect.

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We have place names all over the state that are Native American: Patapsco River, Wicomico County, etc. We should build on that to recognize the peoples who lived in this area for thousands of years before Columbus. But perhaps we might want to consider the timing of this. The city needs to do something to soften the sting of replacing a holiday recognizing someone so important to the Italian-American community. Perhaps spend a few of the city’s limited dollars on a contest to replace the statue with some new art that will recognize Italian-American’s contributions to this city.

Then, after this wrong has been corrected, the city should move forward renaming the holiday. Or, better yet, let the state do this.

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William Hettchen, Ellicott City

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