SEATTLE — Days before Seattle Mayor Ed Murray will sign a resolution creating Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Columbus Day, an Italian American group announced plans to push back.
On Thursday, the group said it will take out a full-page newspaper ad alleging disrespect by city officials and "excessive political correctness."
Leaders are circulating a letter to the mayor from the Italian ambassador to the United States and plan to form a political action committee to represent the interests of 25,000 Italian Americans in Seattle.
"We have been far too laissez-faire in defending the Italian brand," said organizer Ralph Fascitelli.
On Monday, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved the resolution to declare the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Seattle does not recognize the federal Columbus Day holiday and the resolution does not create a new city holiday.
Supporters of the resolution say Christopher Columbus left a legacy of slavery and genocide at the expense of Native Americans.
Fascitelli calls Christopher Columbus an "imperfect hero."
"We of Italian American descent want to cherish the positive aspects of our hero, and he was our hero. This was a brave explorer," said Fascitelli.
Fascitelli and other community leaders said they do not object to the creation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, only that the city council has displaced a day they consider a celebration of Italian heritage.
"The Seattle City Council chose to take our day and give indigenous people theirs. This divisive action creates conflict where there was none," said Gerard Centioli.
A spokesman for Murray said the mayor would address the concerns raised by the Italian American group when he signs the resolution on Monday.