TAMPA (WFLA) – At Columbus Statue Park on Bayshore Boulevard, demonstrators chose to gather Sunday afternoon on International Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage.
“All we did was bring education and awareness and some honor to the people that were killed at his hand,” said Alicia Norris, an organizer with Florida Indigenous Rights and Environmental Equality.
When News Channel 8’s Justin Schecker arrived after 3:30 p.m., several Tampa police officers with their bicycles had formed a line to protect the statue.
Norris said the police responded after a symbolic protest.
“To honor our people, dipped our hands in Halloween fake blood and just put a handprint at the base of the statue,” she explained. “They felt the statue was in danger at that point.”
Rain washed away much of the red dye and the protesters dispersed by 4 p.m.
News Channel 8 asked Norris if there was any attempt to take down the statue.
“No, we don’t even have anything with us that would take it down,” she said. “It’s a large marble statue that is high up in the air.”
Norris said the City of Tampa has not engaged in a dialogue about removing the statue from the downtown park.
Aside from some verbal altercations with people passing by, the protest remained peaceful and News Channel 8 did not observe police making any arrests.
Columbus Day is still recognized as a federal holiday, but some states have replaced it with Indigenous Peoples Day.