Skip to Content

Persona Non Grata: Why a Box Is Covering the Christopher Columbus Statue at Grand Park

4:13 PM PDT on October 10, 2018

[dropcap size=big]L[/dropcap]os Angeles celebrated its inaugural Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday with a panoply of events, native dancing, panel discussions, and of course, a lot of food trucks in and around Grand Park in downtown. But there was one persona non grata.

At the other end of Grand Park, a statue of the Italian explorer – the focus of a wave of revision on his legacy – Christopher Columbus was kept hidden under a big wooden box with red finger paintings.

On the box is pinned a note signed by three organizations, including the L.A. County Arts Commission and the Los Angeles/County Native American Indian Commission, saying the groups are committed to removing the statue from Grand Park.

The box was another signal that Southern California is still shedding once-normal cultural icons that fare poorly with a solid historical view.

Columbus Statue in 2014.
Columbus Statue under a box in 2018. Photo by Philip Iglauer.

“The statue needs to go and the city should be ashamed of itself for acknowledging the egregious harms created by [Columbus] and eliminating Columbus Day, yet allowing a statue of him to remain,” said UCLA professor Shannon Speed, director of the American Indian Studies Center, during a panel discussion organized as part of the celebrations.

Although Indigenous Peoples Day is now county and city law, a few passersby at Grand Park a day after the events weren’t as enthusiastic about removing the statue of the man who for centuries has been credited with launching the European "discovery" — as in colonization — of the Americas.

“I think it is a bad idea to take down the Columbus statue, because maybe it didn’t go down the right way but Columbus still played an important role in history," Gilberto Castaneda of Echo Park told L.A. Taco, as he walked past Tuesday. "So, maybe put up another statue alongside him."

Another woman who passed by, though, said the statue should "definitely be removed," but declined to give her name.

RELATED: How Police Broke Down the Occupy ICE Encampment in Downtown L.A.

Official notices outside of the statue. Photo by Philip Iglauer.

[dropcap size=big]S[/dropcap]ure, there's no question Christopher Columbus played a major role in history, but statues dedicated to the figure are increasingly coming down across the country. Italian Americans fought against the city’s decision to change the designation of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. They argued the Columbus holiday celebrated their culture as immigrants to the United States.

“It’s probably overkill. But that is my general feeling on a lot of things. I mean, politically correct stuff. I could be pretty hardcore, being black. Obviously, there is a lot of stuff I could bitch about,” Albert Ray, 61, told L.A. Taco. “Much ado about not too much.”

Then Ray thought about it for a minute. “I guess it has some symbolic value," he concluded. "I don’t want to dismiss someone’s grievance or perceived grievance either.”

Currently, there is still no publicly released plan to remove the Columbus statue, but as of this week, the box hiding it from view remains.

RELATED: Taco Cart Guy: Señor Columbus ~ By Lalo Alcaraz

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Register to continue

Become a Member

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

Spot Check: Colombian Desgranados In Echo Park, Mexican Wine Festival At Mírate, and Perverted Waffles in DTLA

Plus, a party highlighting pan-African cuisine, a new Taiwanese cookbook by an awarded local from the San Gabriel Valley, and a Little Saigon food festival that starts tonight! Welcome back to Spot Check!

September 22, 2023

This 24-Year-Old Latina Mortician Beautifies the Dead and Influences the Living

Growing up in Arleta with a first-generation family from El Salvador, Berrios admits that her family only embraced her career choice two years ago, after she started to win awards like “Young Funeral Director of the Year.” The 24-year-old works as the licenced funeral director and embalmer at Hollywood Forever cemetery. As a young person born in peak Generation Z, she's documented her deathcare journey on TikTok and has accrued more than 43K followers on the platform. 

September 21, 2023

Meet ‘Carnitas Rogelio,’ The Family-Run Stand With The Best Michoacán-Style Carnitas O.C. Has to Offer

Michoacán-raised Rogelio Gonzalez slices the cuerito (the pig skin) in a checkered pattern to ensure a light crunch in each bite and utilizes every part of the pig, from the feet to the liver and intestines, which he binds together in a braid. 

September 20, 2023

‘The Office’ Star Rainn Wilson Brought Jerk Chicken Tacos to the Picket Lines Outside of Paramount Studios

In three hours, D's Tipsy Tacos and her team passed out “roughly 100 plates” of tacos, burritos, rice, beans, nachos, and quesadillas to striking screenwriters and actors.

September 19, 2023

Five Common Plants to Avoid When Creating Your Green Spaces in L.A.

Almost every time I visit a property with landscaping issues, the problem starts with bad design: the wrong plants in the wrong place. Here's advice from a third-generation L.A. landscaper and noted taco expert.

September 19, 2023
See all posts