PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- Weeks of protests at Pueblo's controversial Christopher Columbus statue has led the city to hire a mediator to help those who want the statue removed and those who want it to stay, find common ground on how to move forward.
For six Sundays in a row, dozens of protestors and counter-protestors have gathered on Abriendo Avenue. Some of the protests turning violent with people on both sides being placed in handcuffs by Pueblo Police officers.
Pueblo City-County Library District across the street from the statue started closing its doors on Sundays due to safety concerns and reports of people carrying guns outside.
To stop these protests from getting worse, Mayor Nick Gradisar hired a mediator to meet with both groups.
"The mediator will try to bring these sides together and see whether or not there's any common ground," Gradisar said.
A solution can't come soon enough. Gradisar says since the protests started, it's cost the city a total of $65,000 for extra officers and equipment.
"Every Sunday, 20 to 25 police officers are there at the scene to make sure that things remain peaceful," Gradisar says.
While the mayor says both parties have agreed to meet, Rita Martinez with one of the groups asking for the statue's removal says her side won't be swayed.
"We don't really need to go into mediation," Martinez said. "We need the city to act on it."
However, Martinez does believe these meetings could be a good thing to prevent extreme protestors from taking down the statue themselves.
"We don't want one person or a small group of people to be charged with anything," she said. "We want to do it, I guess what you would consider the best way possible."
KRDO reached out to the counter-protestor group asking for the statue to stay. They have no comment at this time but we will hear from them once these meetings set to start in the middle of August get underway.