MIAMI, Fla. – Evelio Mendina wants to spread a message of peace. On Friday, he stood at the base of a statue of Christopher Columbus, one of two in downtown Miami that were defaced by protesters on Wednesday.
“We’re defending what’s important and that is freedom. Basically, there’s room for everybody, as long as it’s peaceful.”
Medina founded his own group called the Law Abiding Citizens’ Coalition. He was outraged to see the statues become the target of what were otherwise peaceful protests.
It is one of the reasons he decided to hold his own counter-protest at Bayfront Park on Sunday. The “Law and Order” rally is set to take place from 2 to 6 p.m.
“We want to get together this Sunday, Flag Day, and we have a beautiful flag. We’re gonna celebrate patriotism. We’re going to celebrate America,” Medina said.
Medina wrapped an American flag around the base of the statue on Friday. Protesters said they targeted it because of Columbus’ history of terrorizing and enslaving Native Americans.
"Was he perfect or not? That's not the argument. The argument really is the defacing and the vandalism that they’re perpetrating nationwide," Median said.
But those who have taken part in previous protests strongly disagree and want to make a point that the history of Columbus is not something to be celebrated.
Protester Jonathan Gartrelle said that real history should be taught about Columbus and other historical figures like him. “Stop telling second graders that this person was a great man. Tell them the whole story. We cannot just uplift people who do horrible, horrific, gruesome terroristic s--t,” Gartrelle said.
Medina’s rally Sunday is scheduled for around the same time that Black Lives Matter protesters are expected to gather at the Torch of Friendship, a scene that could lead to some heated confrontations.