The nation’s capital has passed a bill to rename the history holiday Columbus Day as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” ABC reports.
The legislation, named the “Indigenous Peoples’ Day Emergency Declaration Act of 2019,” was proposed by Councilman David Grosso (I-D.C.). The bill, which Grosso inaccurately described as “emergency legislation” on Twitter, is ostensibly for the purpose of “honoring Indigenous People and their rich history and cultural contributions,” without explaining what those alleged contributions are.
Grosso further attempted to justify the bill by falsely claiming that “Columbus enslaved, colonized, mutilated, and massacred thousands of Indigenous People in the Americas.”
If Mayor Muriel Bowser (D-D.C.) signs the bill in time, it will go into immediate effect for the upcoming Columbus Day on October 14th. But in order to become permanent law, it must be approved by Congress within 225 days of the bill’s signing.
D.C. is one of 130 cities around the country that is trying to eliminate Columbus Day and replace it with a day instead focusing on Native Americans. Grosso’s bill was supported by 9 of the 11 members of the D.C. Council who were present at the meeting; the only two who did not vote for the bill were Chairman Phil Mendelson (D-D.C.) and Jack Evans (D-D.C.), who both abstained.
Evans justified his abstention by saying that while he supported implementing an Indigenous Peoples’ Day, he did not support the elimination of Columbus Day in order to do so. He cited “a number of emails, a number of calls from constituents in my ward, largely of Italian descent,” who felt discriminated against by the bill.
The National Italian American Federation released a statement similarly voicing its opposition to the change, saying that the repeal of Columbus Day, “which is celebrated by over 20 million Italian Americans…would be culturally insensitive.”