Columbus Park sign, Sunnywide neighborhood Denver

The Columbus Park sign, which has the words "La Raza Park" scratched into the paint.

Following a weekend signature drive that netted the support of 700 people, Columbus Park in Northwest Denver is a step closer to a new name: La Raza Park.

9News reports that the park gained its current name honoring Christopher Columbus in 1931. However, as the Latino population in the neighborhood grew, neighbors began calling it “La Raza,” which is colloquial Spanish for “the people.”

In a letter to Denver Parks & Recreation, Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval wrote that “the Latinx community has simply fought for what a city should be: a public space that welcomes them and reflects their needs. The official park name 'Columbus' is a constant reminder of centuries of injustice and is in the opposite direction of this goal."

Sandoval, who is leading the effort to change the name, only needed 300 signatures to advance the petition to an advisory board. State legislators and school board members were among those who showed up to support the signature drive on Friday and Sunday. The city has already removed a sign with the Columbus name at the park, and vandals pulled down a statue honoring Columbus in Civic Center Park last month.

Nationally, racial justice protests spurred by the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd renewed calls to remove monuments to white supremacy, Confederate sympathizers and slave owners. Gov. Jared Polis has since formed an advisory board to explore the renaming of geographical features and public spaces in Colorado.

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