Vandals defiled a 125-year-old bronze statue of Christopher Columbus in New York’s Central Park overnight, covering its hands in ‘blood’ red paint and scrawling in white paint “Hate will not be tolerated” on its pedestal.
A worker for the Central Park Conservancy discovered the vandalism early Tuesday morning and called the police, according to the New York Post.
Along with the red paint on the statue’s hands, a paper sign that read “Save your soul” had been placed on the pedestal, along with the hashtag #SomethingsComing.
The statue is located in the southern portion of the famous park in the middle of Manhattan, near the monument to William Shakespeare.
New York Police Department Hate Crime Task Force is assisting with the investigation. So far, no one has been arrested.
Central Park workers hurried to clean up the graffiti. A worker was overheard by the New York Post saying the red paint on the statue’s hands would be difficult to remove.
Last month, a monument to Columbus in Queens was spray-painted with “Don’t Honor Genocide” in blue, according to WABC.
Meanwhile, activists in Baltimore took a sledgehammer to one of the oldest monuments to Columbus in the US, claiming he “symbolized the initial invasion of European capitalism into the Western Hemisphere.” The perpetrators filmed the vandalism and posted the video on YouTube.
“Columbus initiated a centuries-old wave of terrorism, murder, genocide, rape, slavery, ecological degradation and capitalist exploitation of labor in the Americas,” said the narrator, who introduced himself as ‘Tye,’ a resident of Baltimore. “That Columbian wave of destruction continues on the back of indigenous, African-American and brown people.”
Public opinion has been gradually been turning against Columbus, due to allegations that he enslaved and killed native populations when he first arrived in the Caribbean from Spain in 1492.
The date of his landing, October 12, has been a federal US holiday since 1937. It was adjusted to second Monday in October in 1970. However, grassroots efforts by Native Americans to replace the Columbus Day celebrations with an Indigenous Peoples’ Day have prompted lawmakers in Denver, Phoenix and Seattle to do so.
Attacks on Columbus statues come amid the ongoing controversy involving efforts to remove Confederate monuments, which began in 2015 after the murder of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, and gained traction after the early August violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced he was forming a panel to review all possible “symbols of hate on city property,” including Columbus. Italian-American groups have demanded the removal of Columbus from that list.
People shouldn’t “pre-judge” the commission, de Blasio said, later suggesting some monuments could simply get explanatory plaques added to them, according to the New York Daily News.