LOS ANGELES — On Aug. 30 the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to eliminate observance of Columbus Day from the city’s calendar.
District 15 Councilman Joe Buscaino, a first-generation Italian American reared in San Pedro, however, objected to the renaming of the holiday to Indigenous People’s Day.
In “All Lives Matter” fashion, he argued that he wanted a day that celebrated “all of the diverse cultures in the city,” noting prejudice that Italian Americans have also encountered this country.
Buscaino, District 1 Councilman Gil Cedillo, District 4 Councilman David Ryu and Mitchell Englander tried to propose having Indigenous Peoples Day be on Aug. 9, a day when native people are celebrated by the United Nations, but the rest of the council disagreed.
A second motion on a report to establish Indigenous People’s Day as a legal city holiday passed 14-1 with Buscaino opposed. The report recommended that Oct. 12 be designated as Italian Heritage Day and create Indigenous People Day as an official city holiday to be observed on the second Monday of each October, and to be recognized no later than 2019.
“As my colleague Mike Bonin mentioned so eloquently, ‘This is a very, very small step in the right step in the right direction, but it is a critical step in the right direction,’” said District 13 Councilman Mitch O’Farrell at a rally after the votes. “We know that this is not the panaceum to cure all of the ills that afflict our community…. It is a victory for all peoples … we acted boldly today, we acted with courage.”