On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, Philadelphia Councilmember Mark F. Squilla, The 1492 Society, and the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations all joined forces to file a lawsuit in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney’s Executive Order No. 2-21, with which he unilaterally cancelled Columbus Day as a holiday in the City of Brotherly Love and replaced it with “Indigenous Peoples Day.”
This week, host John M. Viola sits down with Atty. George Bochetto, who is representing the plaintiffs in this landmark case.
The plaintiffs contend that no notice was given to the other branches of the Philadelphia municipal government, which had a right to designate holidays, no input from the public was requested or allowed for, and no deference was given to Pennsylvania State Statue (44 P.S Section 32) declaring “Columbus Day” as an official statewide holiday, all in violation of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter.
Moreover, Atty. Bochetto and his clients believe that Mayor Kenney’s executive order is the latest in a long pattern of discrimination against the Italian American Community in Philadelphia, and that his actions violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of “Equal Protection” against governmental discrimination as cited in the 14th Amendment.
In a continuation of our “Conversations on Columbus” series, we’ll delve into what inspired this unprecedented suit, explore the legal process that is about to unfold, learn how this case could potentially arrive at the United States Supreme Court, and what its result could mean for the Italian American community — and for communities of all backgrounds — in future efforts to define ethnicity and identity in an increasingly diverse America.
Join us for this very special addition to our “Conversations on Columbus” series as we unpack what promises to be a historic lawsuit for the Italian American community.