The city of Columbus, Ohio, will not observe the controversial federal holiday honoring its namesake, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, for the first time this year.
City offices are instead scheduled to close on Veterans Day in November, though a spokesperson for the mayor’s office said the decision was not spurred by movements to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, a counter-celebration held on the same day to commemorate Native Americans.
Critics say the holiday honors the mass genocide and colonization of Native Americans, who lived in the Americas long before Christopher Columbus arrived in October 1492, while Italian-American organizations say the movement comes at the expense of a time to celebrate their ethnic heritage.
Ohio’s capital city is the most populated city named after Columbus, with 860,000 people in the 2016 U.S. census. The city, however, lacks the funding to give its 8,500 employees both Veterans Day and Columbus Day off, said Robin Davis, a spokesperson for Mayor Andrew Ginther.
“We have a number of veterans who work for the city, and there are so many here in Columbus,” Davis said. “We thought it was important to honor them with that day off.”
Several U.S. cities and states have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day or Native American Day — including Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix and Denver, as well as South Dakota and Alaska.
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Source: USA Today