DENVER (KDVR) — Columbus Park, in Denver’s Sunnyside neighborhood, has been a gathering place for families for decades.
The sign bearing the Italian explorer’s name for the park has been removed. The sign’s disappearance both pleased and surprised Arturo Bones Rodriguez.
“I looked over and I said wow it’s down. Now the next thing was, who took it down. Was it protesters. My last thought is that it was the city,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez has been battling to have the park renamed to La Raza Park for 50 years.
In 1970, there was once a pool in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood now experiencing gentrification. That was the site of a swim in – where protestors refused to leave. Since then, they’ve been asking for the name to be changed to La Raza Park.
Rodriguez said, “The issue was and is the atrocities that Columbus inflicted including genocide, the legacy of ethnocide, and slave trade. That was the issue.”
Decades of protests had failed to lead to a name change. But recent protests after the death of George Floyd led the city to remove the sign. There was concern protestors would take it down themselves.
City Council Member Amanda Sandoval says she’s preparing a petition to change the name of the park to La Raza Park.
Sandoval said, “Its honoring the history of northwest Denver and the struggles. Fifty years ago there was tear gas at this park. The police versus the Chicanos and it’s important that we document that history.”
Bones is more confident than ever the official name change is coming. The absence of Columbus’ name he says – a step in the right direction.
City Council member Sandoval will now try to collect at least 300 signatures to have the name changed. It will then be up to the city council to make a decision.