DENVER – Police arrested 83 Columbus Day Parade protesters including American Indian Movement activist Russell Means after fake blood and dismembered baby dolls were poured on the parade route Saturday.
At least 10 of those arrested faced charges of resisting arrest, while most faced charges of blocking a parade route or interfering with a peaceful assembly, police spokesman Sonny Jackson said. The parade through downtown was delayed about an hour.
George Vendegnia, one of the organizers of the parade, said the protest and delay were planned for and caused minimal disruption.
"With this protest, it's just motivating people more to be back next year and exercise their right to participate in an American holiday," Vendegnia said.
No serious injuries were reported to either protesters or police.
Among those seen being led away in handcuffs was Glenn Morris, an associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado and one of the organizers of the All Nations/Four Directions March, a march in protest of the parade.
Denver's parade, which was started in 1907, has a troubled history of arrests and confrontations between Columbus supporters and detractors. Protesters have called him a slave trader who touched off centuries of genocide and oppression against native people. Supporters say he was a brave explorer who opened a new world and that the parade is an American holiday to be celebrated.
Colorado is credited with being the first to make Columbus Day a state holiday, which later became a federal holiday. The parade is touted as being one of the first in honor of Columbus.
Morris and other protest march organizers earlier this week said they were angered with last year's use of re-enactors of a 19th century U.S. Army Cavalry unit to carry the flag before the start of the Columbus Day Parade. They likened the use of the soldiers, who wore uniforms similar to those used during the Indian Wars of the late 1800s, to nooses used to intimidate black students in the central Louisiana town of Jena.
Vendegnia said the re-enactors did not participate this year because of a scheduling conflict.