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CHULA VISTA, Calif. — The Human Relations Commission of Chula Vista voted unanimously Thursday evening to recommend the removal of the decades-old Christopher Columbus statue in Discovery Park.

The statue has become a flash point over the last few months with vandals dousing the statue with red paint twice, costing the city thousands of dollars in cleanup work.

In Chula Vista’s city chambers Thursday, Native Americans made impassioned arguments against the statue. “He came here, he stole land, enslaved people,” one speaker said.

Others spoke in support of the statue. “We stand proudly of our history. History of our faith, history of the world, history of our country,” said Rene Trevino with the Knights of Columbus. 

Rather than tear down something, I totally agree with building up and building a monument to the Kumye,” said Michael Brault, also with the Knights of Columbus. 

Anti-Columbus activists say they are happy with the Commission’s decision to bring the removal recommendation to the full City Council and say this should have been done years ago. “I think a lot of people are in their feelings because they think we are trying to change something that’s in the books. It was just what you were taught; doesn’t mean it was right,” Native American activist Christina Buckner said.