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Press Release

June 24, 2020

City Councilor Sarai Rivera

Call for the Worcester Redevelopment Authority to Remove Columbus Statue and for the City of Worcester to Respond to Indigenous Community’s Call For End to the Celebration of Columbus

I’ve held my tongue, for perhaps longer than I should have, but the time is now well passed for the Worcester Redevelopment Authority to remove the statue commemorating Christopher Columbus from their property at Union Station.

We should not be deceiving future generations by continuing to pretend he’s worthy of any sort of honor and he is certainly not who we want honoring generations of immigrants that came through Union Station decades ago, or welcoming visitors to our city today.

I ask that former Rep. Vincent Pedone and the WRA Board of Directors discuss and vote on the immediate removal of the Columbus statue at Union Station. Christopher Columbus is not someone we should be memorializing and sitting quietly hoping things will blow-over is complicity in White privilege, colonialism and systemic racism.

Additionally, on October 22, of last year I supported Wahya Wolfpaw, a member of Worcester’s indigenous community, when she asked the City Council and City Manager to end the celebration of Colombus Day by our City.

A reactionary proposal two weeks later to acknowledge the Columbus Day Parade Committee only added to community confusion and frustration. At this time I want to affirm my position that the issues raised by indigenous leaders and others concerning Colombus must be responded to by the City.

I ask City Manager Augustus to provide a formal response to this petition, and given the petition originated at City Council I ask that his proposal for a course forward be presented to Council for debate and approval.

As an Afro Taina I know far too well the atrocities and devastation Colombus caused not just to the Taino Island of Borinquen (now Puerto Rico), but throughout the Caribbean, Central America and North America. Slavery, rape, murder, torture and sexual enslavement only partially capture his sins, crimes and trail of bodies.

In no way do I view him as any kind of leader deserving of memorialization, but much more as a criminal, who’s crimes to this day continue to wreck havoc throughout the Americas.

District 4 City Councilor, Sarai Rivera

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