On Sunday, a statue of Christopher Columbus was defaced in San Francisco, according to a report from KPIX News.
The statue on Telegraph Hill in the city’s Little Italy section had been covered in red paint with the words “Destroy all monuments of genocide” and “Kill all colonizers” scrawled at the bottom of the monument. The statue is considered to be a source of pride in the Italian community and is an integral part of the neighborhood’s Italian Heritage Day Parade.
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“This is a shameful act of hatred and vandalism,” Aaron Peskin, the area appointee for the Board of Supervisors, told the San Francisco Examiner. “Coit Tower is a destination for locals and visitors alike and defacing public property is just the lowest form of behavior.”
Police were notified and they are now reviewing surveillance footage in an attempt to identify the party guilty of defacing the Christopher Columbus statue.
As North Beach News reported the story on its Facebook page, opinions about the vandalism varied among its followers.
“A huge thank you to the heroes who went out of their way to attempt to make this statue great for the first time in its existence! Shame on the cogs wiping the truth away this morning,” Sandeep Prakash replied on the post.
Leslie Mowitt, a poster who didn’t agree with the vandals, said, “Destroy someone’s artwork with violent, militant messages. Good thing you weren’t the first people to step off the boat.”
In recent years, many cities that once celebrated Columbus Day have opted to pay homage to indigenous natives of the land at the time Christopher Columbus “discovered” the Americas. According to a story in the New York Times, more than 130 municipalities and six states now observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day in lieu of Columbus Day. Maine was the last state to join the movement.
There are cities, streets and statues that honor the Italian explorer, but Columbus never actually stepped foot on North American soil. Ironically, revisionist history indicates that Columbus “discovered” the Americas (the Caribbean). The reality is he was lost and was actually trying to sail to Asia.
There has been an ongoing debate on whether or not Columbus statues should be removed from locations within the United States. His true legacy, in recent years, has brought to light a brutal and painful look at the history of indigenous people and enslaved Africans. And the statues are triggering reminders of the past.
While people may choose to debate Columbus’ exploration route, what is known is he was responsible for being one of the first Europeans to implement slavery, genocide and colonization in the Americas.