CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- A battle over the future of the Christopher Columbus statue in Discovery Park has become a flashpoint for residents.
The city is in the process of determining if the statue should remain up after two rounds of vandalism left the brass statue covered in red paint. The city has spent thousands of dollars cleaning the statue.
Meanwhile, protesters are demanding the statue's removal. “That statue is a constant reminder of the beginning of a genocide,” said Rae Ann Herrera, a Native American Apache.
But supporters of the Columbus statue have also started to rally to protect the history of the Italian explorer.
“We have a very, very diverse community and you can’t elevate one group by tearing down another,” said John McCann, a member of the Chula Vista City Council.
Members of the Catholic charity Knights of Columbus say their namesake explorer is too important to push aside. “With him on his first journey was Father Juan Perez, who brought Christianity to North America -- Canada, the United States and Mexico,” said Trevino, a member of the Knights of Columbus.
But activists say they will be leading the fight to remove the statue once and for all. “We want to make sure that this statue gets removed," said Rafael Bautisa, a self-described communist from the Tenants Union. "This ideology is so wrong because it's based on injustice and inequality."
A meeting to decide on the statue's future is set up for Thursday at Chula Vista’s City Hall.
“Citizens of Chula Vista, you’ve got to be there tomorrow night at 6 if you want to save your park and not have it become another Chicano Park,” Knights of Columbus member Ernst Griffes said.