Welcome to the California Columbia Association

Board Meeting: Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Bertolucci’s Restaurant

421 Cypress, So. San Francisco



The California Columbia Association has always prided itself on remaining on the outskirts of the political arena and focusing on being an organization dedicated to all First Responders in enjoying, sharing and celebrating their Italian-American Heritage. Unfortunately recent events, and particularly those of the last few months, have seen our heritage come under attack from the political arena.

Just weeks ago the San Francisco Board of Supervisors took a vote to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous People Day, despite a Day already allocated as Indigenous People Day and a month noted to celebrate their heritage. This action followed many of the same activities that have transpired in many cities along the West Coast and throughout the country. What is further concerning is that in recent meetings between various Italian organizations in the Bay Area and local Tribal Leaders it was learned that they did not request this action. Most importantly, one representative having stated that there is no wish to pit one heritage against another. But that is exactly what is transpiring.

In light of these actions, a new group has formed to bring together the many Italian-American organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, calling itself CIAO (Coalition of Italian American Organizations). The purpose of this group to to bring all Italian-American Organizations together in shared causes and to speak as one voice. Your Columbia Association Board of Directors voted in the first week of February 2018 to join CIAO.

As noted earlier, the SF Board of Supervisors took their vote recently and did not allow the many concerned organizations present to speak and have their concerns brought to light. Below is a statement that was prepared by me, your president, on behalf of our members and the many Italian-Americans who serve the public and who have made a multitude of contributions to this country, state and the City of San Francisco. It was Italians who played a major role in rebuilding this City on many occasions. Their efforts, pain and determination should never be forgotten.

The following is the statement prepared for the SF Board of Supervisors that was not allowed to be presented.

 I am the president of the California Law Enforcement Columbia Association, a social organization of Italian-American peace officers and first responders.

But more importantly I was born and raised in San Francisco. I am the son of Italian immigrants; both my mother and father having come from Italy for a better life.

I have always been proud to be a San Franciscan, as difficult and dysfunctional as we may be at certain times. But I have been proud to be associated with a city that has always found itself and regarded itself as open to all heritages and people of different beliefs.

I am here today because I am opposed to the proposition of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People Day. The Italian people are proud of their heritage. Throughout history they have also suffered indignities that are unjust and unfair. At one time in this country Italians were not considered white and were not given the privileges of the white population. During World War II a portion of the Italian population was interned because Italy was part of the Axis Powers.

For years, the Italian people have identified themselves with Christopher Columbus for the sheer tenacity that the individual displayed, for his accomplishments as an explorer against tremendous odds, against skepticism from his own country that forced him to find funding for his explorations and voyages from another country.

I’ve read part of the proposal for the change in this name. To take Christopher Columbus and make him the spotlight for the indignities and transgressions that have been suffered is like blaming the contractor of a freeway for the tragedies that have occurred upon it surface once it opens and the years after that. Did he discover a new world? Were there people already occupying this land. We all know the answers to these questions. What was discovered was a new world in the prospective of the world that he knew.

I am here not to oppose any holiday that brings focus and attention to the suffering that the American Indian people have endured. I’m not here today to oppose any holiday that celebrates the heritage of the American Indian people or any people that have suffered transgressions throughout history.

What I do not understand is to do this at the expense of another ethnic group or heritage. This City lays claim to the oldest Columbus Day / Italian Heritage Parade in the country, older than New York, older than Boston, older than anywhere else and we will be celebrating the 150th Anniversary of this event in 2018.

We have a proud Italian community here that has accomplished great things, at times in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Once again, I am not opposed to honoring and bringing attention to the suffering that the Indigenous People have experienced. But I am lost on the logic of replacing a holiday or a day that honors one ethnic group, one heritage with another. In closing, I would just like to say that as the years and society has progressed we have looked back and seen the many indignities that have transpired. Hopefully we have learned from these experiences to become a better people and we have learned to treat each other with more compassion and dignity. But don’t do this at the expense of a heritage that identifies with the accomplishments that have also been achieved.

I would like to thank you for your time today.

Your President,

Leo Pierini



Membership in the California Law Enforcement Columbia Association (CLECA) is a way of showing your Italian-American pride. Membership also offers you a tremendous networking opportunity while enjoying a close fellowship bond with law enforcement and public safety professionals throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Our social and other events offer members a chance to enjoy themselves while serving a variety of great causes. For the low dues amount of $50 annually ($20 for Student Membership) you can begin expanding your cultural horizons. The California Columbia Association is affiliated and sanctioned by the National Council of Columbia Associations in Civil Service, which dates back to 1975, and is the only Columbia Association on the West Coast.

The California Columbia Association consists of six entry level membership categories, which include: Italian Law Enforcement Sworn Members, Italian Law Enforcement Non-sworn Members, Public Safety Members, Associate Members, Affiliated Members and Student Members. Please visit our “MEMBERSHIP” Section for more details on these categories. You can also download a Membership Application and submit it by mail or email. If you have any questions, you can contact the Association at columbiaca@yahoo.com.

The California Law Enforcement Columbia Association is registered as a Non-profit Association with the California Secretary of State’s Office, the State Tax Board and the IRS.


California Columbia Association

Christmas Dinner 2017

This year’s Christmas Dinner featured a special presentation honoring retired SFPD Commander Mike Puccinelli (left). See Event Photos for more pictures from the 2017 event.





The Executive Board of Directors of the California Columbia Association would like to thank all those who volunteered and participated in the Italian Heritage / Columbus Day activities over the weekend.  Hope you enjoyed the Public Safety officers buffet and we look forward to seeing you next year for the 150th Anniversary of the oldest Italian Heritage Parade in the country. For more photos from the Italian Heritage Parade and the weekend’s activities, click on the EVENT PHOTOS tab.



2016 Columbia Christmas Dinner

Consul General of Italy Lorenzo Ortona (center) addresses the group at the 2016 Columbia Association Christmas Dinner. CLECA Executive VP Steve Landi and Chaplain Joseph Landi (L) and President Leo Pierini (R).







The California Law Enforcement Columbia Association is proud to announce the 2017 recipient of the Italian-American Public Safety Scholarship, Daniel Chavez-Luviano. Daniel is entering his senior year at San Francisco State University with a Criminal Justice Studies Major and a minor in Ethnic Studies. He also is very involved in the issue of human trafficking and the global impact of these issues. Daniel is active in on campus student organizations and is a strong contributor to the classroom environment in his Criminal Justice classes.

The CLECA Italian-American Public Safety Scholarship is awarded to an individual based on his GPA, involvement in the community and interest in law enforcement or public safety as a career. The scholarship was established in June 2016 when California Law Enforcement Columbia Association President Leo Pierini signed the final agreement papers to establish the Scholarship with the School of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE) of San Francisco State University.


The NYPD Columbia Association Standard Honored in San Francisco 2001

Columbus Day Parade 2001 in San Francisco. SFPD Officers carrying the NYPD Standard in honor of New York Officers after Columbus Day events in New York were suspended following the tragic attacks of that year. For more details and photos on the story and history behind the above photograph, click on the HISTORY tab for the entire history of the California Columbia Association.