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Italian Americans Across the Country Celebrate Columbus Day Peacefully

Commission for Social Justice® Commends Marchers and Protestors on Avoiding Violence

Contact: Diane E. Crespy, (202) 547-2900 dcrespy@osia.org

Washington, D.C., October 10, 2000 - The Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ), the anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), has commended Italian-American marchers as well as parade protestors for maintaining a peaceful environment for both sides to express their views during Columbus Day celebrations this past weekend.

"I think it speaks a lot to the integrity of all groups - Italian Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics - that events were kept peaceful, particularly the volatile situation in Denver," said CSJ President John Dabbene. "The CSJ commends everyone involved for preserving Americans' right to free speech and for avoiding violent conflicts."

In Denver on Saturday, Italian Americans, including members of the CSJ and OSIA, held their Columbus Day parade as planned, despite protests from the American Indian Movement (AIM) which stopped the parade for an hour, the Denver Post reported. Both groups had been meeting for weeks to resolve a conflict over using Columbus' name in the parade.

"It's important to remember that no one's rights were infringed upon during the Denver parade," Dabbene said. "We maintained our right to free speech and AIM and other protesters maintained their right to assemble. Though there are obvious disagreements about Columbus, we must all remain focused on guaranteeing our rights as Americans."

Elsewhere in the country, Italian Americans celebrated Columbus and pride in their Italian heritage with parades and celebrations as usual, including the largest Columbus Day parade which takes place annually in New York City. The Associated Press reports that references to Columbus had been dropped from parades in New York and San Francisco, but Dabbene commented that was totally inaccurate.

"The parade in New York was filled with references to Columbus. Our main purpose for being there was to celebrate him and we never had any intention of removing his name from the parade," said Dabbene, a participant in the New York parade.

According to John Tedesco, president of the California state chapter of OSIA, the parade and events in San Francisco were a celebration of Italian heritage and Christopher Columbus, and there were references to both throughout the weekend celebrations.

Italian Americans in some cities, including Denver, are already anticipating activities for next October.

The Commission for Social Justice® was founded to ensure equal treatment, concern, respect, and freedom for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, or sex. The CSJ is particularly dedicated to eliminating false, negative portrayals of Italian Americans in the media and entertainment industries and replacing them with true, positive, and affirming portrayals. Contact the CSJ for more information at: (202) 547-2900, csj@osia.org, or www.osia.org.