CAMPBELL, Calif. (KRON) — Campbell city leaders apologized on Tuesday for the city celebrating Columbus Day by illuminating a water tower with red, white, and blue lights.
On Monday, the city’s Facebook page posted a photo of the water tower and wrote, “Look towards the Water Tower tonight for a special lighting. At the request of the City Council, our Campbell Water Tower will be lit this evening in red, white, & blue to commemorate #ColumbusDay.”
Local residents were not pleased. “Columbus Day … really? Why aren’t we observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day? This is very upsetting,” Renee Parmelee commented on the city’s Facebook post.
“It’s so backwards it’s embarrassing. This is a city comprised of caring educated residents who reside in Silicon Valley,” Margaret Mori wrote.
“Get with the times dude. There’s nothing to celebrate about Columbus,” Leslie Knecktel wrote.
The city was built on land where the Muwekma Ohlone tribe lived for thousands of years.
City Council member Sergio Lopez wrote a lengthy apology on Tuesday and said the incident “fell far short of the standards of our community.”
“The water tower is meant to be a symbol of unity for our community. We should instead recognize that yesterday was Indigenous People’s Day, celebrating the beauty of their culture and not the actions of someone who committed genocide against them,” Lopez wrote.
Lopez explained how the embarrassing tower lighting debacle happened. The tower’s lighting schedule follows the federal holiday schedule. Columbus Day is a national holiday marking Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. “Since unfortunately our federal government continues to recognize Columbus Day, this date was added by default,” he explained.
Lopez, however, still said the City Council should have foreseen and corrected the issue during its September 6 meeting.
“I’m grateful to every one of our residents who commented and wrote in, to push us to do better and hold us accountable as a city,” Lopez wrote.