LOS ANGELES -- On Thursday, October 12, East Los Angeles College hosted a public memorial dedicated to the memory of the 70 to 100 million indigenous people who were killed by European acts of genocide. The event was organized by the Anahuac Studies Club of ELAC and the Mexica Movement, an indigenous education organization. The memorial was held on Columbus Day, a date marking the beginning of the European presence in the Western Hemisphere, and the starting point for what professor David Stannard calls "the greatest act of genocide in the history of humanity."
(Stannard is the author of "American Holocaust", published through Oxford University Press.)
Throughout the day and night, hundreds of students had the opportunity to learn startling details about the genocidal actions of Christopher Columbus, Spanish Conquistadors, and even the American government. Candles were lit in the formation of the date "1492": a solemn reminder to the year when the lives of indigenous peoples were swept into a nightmare of murder, land theft, rape, and smallpox biological warfare.
The entire memorial was cordoned off with crime scene tape, making the point that this event was to be witnessed in the context of a massive homocide. Like tombstones in a cemetery, placards lined the ELAC mall showing Spanish-drawn illustrations of murder and torture against indigenous peoples during the 15th and 16th centuries. Across the sidwalk lay the chalk outlines of bodies, just as a true homicide scene would look. And behind it all were bold signs declaring Christopher Columbus to be a mass murderer as well as a message of unity between Mexicans, Central Americans, and Native Americans -- all victims of the same European invasions and genocide.
Signs were splattered with simulated blood, and a dramatic "History of Genocide" chart that compared the staggering Indigenous Holocaust to other acts of genocide, such as the Jewish Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. On site were representatives who talked with students and answered their questions on this most massive of genocides.
The genocide memorial touched many people and outraged others.
" I didn't know all this happened," said one student in disbelief.
"I didn't know they killed that many people."
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A ground-breaking book that examines the systematic killing of 70 to 100 million Indigenous people by Europeans across the western hemisphere.