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University's 'Prospector Pete' Mascot Represents Genocide Against Indigenous People, Student Group Says

LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — A mascot has caused some controversy on a local college campus.

As CBSLA's Jo Kwon reports, there is a debate going on at Cal State Long Beach about Prospector Pete.

Some students say the statue of Prospector Pete is an important gathering point.

"When people want to have a rally or a protest. It's always there at Prospector Pete. And think it should stay," said Ruby Desimone.

But some say it has got to go. The university's student group voted to support retiring the mascot and moving the statue. The group says Prospector Pete represents an era of genocide against indigenous people during the Gold Rush.

One student told Kwon that Pete should stay put as a teaching tool.

"I think if the people know about the history we can move on and learn from it, instead of just acting like it never existed," said the student.

The university has formed a committee to figure out what to do.

"We want to do something that gives a more comprehensive look at us as a campus and the land we're on," said Jeff Bliss, CSU Long Beach spokesman.

The campus was built on land once occupied by indigenous people. Some options being considered -- remove it, relocate it or potentially add information displays around the mascot. Maybe even some additional plaques describing the history of the mascot.

Right now the statue just has a plaque and the one on the other side is apparently MIA.

But one sophomore interviewed by Kwon says plaques might be pointless.

"A lot of people don't read in the first place. You just walk by it," said CSU Long Beach student Johnny Thai.

CSU Long Beach student Allyson Jacobo says the statue should stay.

"It's just a mascot. It doesn't have to represent who we are," said Jacobo.

She says if people are offended by Prospector Pete "that's because they're giving a statue the power to hurt them."

Some have suggested a change.

"Maybe we could be the squirrels," said Thai. "There's a whole bunch of squirrels here."

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