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Oberlin manager receives ominous voice mail over proposed Columbus Day change

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OBERLIN – A woman from West Chester, Pa., is threatening to take the city to federal court over its proposal to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

City Manager Rob Hillard said he received a voicemail on July 2 from Karen Capone complaining that the proposal is “very insulting.”

“Let me tell you something: You are discriminating against this country’s Italian-Americans and we don’t like it,” Capone said in the voicemail. “We’re good, hardworking people who made this country great. If you do that, we’re going to have to take this matter into our hands and complain to the U.S. government.”

Capone went on to say that she would “get all the various Italian-American groups together, and those groups that involve those people who try to defame us, and we’re going to get together and have a little talk with your city, your town about this.”

Capone said there were “several groups on call right now waiting to see your decision.’’

“We will march about this,” Capone said. “We will take it to the federal government. We will not be insulted and defamed in any way.”

Oberlin Council was set to vote on the resolution at its meeting in July but tabled the vote after Oberlin Law Director Jon Clark asked the council in July for more time clarify some wording. The Council unanimously supported the proposal during two prior readings of the resolution.

The final vote is scheduled for the Aug. 21 Council meeting. Hillard said he’s passed the voicemail on to police but at this point is not asking for extra security.

If the city moves forward with the resolution as proposed, it would be the first in Ohio to establish Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday in October, a holiday federally recognized as Columbus Day.

At the July Oberlin Council meeting, Basil Russo, an attorney who is chairman of the Cleveland Columbus Day Parade and national president of the Italian Sons and Daughters of America, spoke out against the proposal on behalf of what he said was dozens of people.

No one from Oberlin was among his group of opponents.

Russo said his group was not against Indigenous Peoples Day but they are against it replacing Columbus Day.

Russo did not immediately return calls for comment on Thursday.

Contact Jodi Weinberger at 329-7245 or jweinberger@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jodi_Weinberger.



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