The Christopher Columbus statue in Boston’s North End will be removed after it was beheaded early Wednesday morning. There were regular calls to remove sculptures commemorating colonizers and slavers sweep America on the back of anti-racism protests. Mayor Marty Walsh said it will be put in storage and there will now be conversations about the historic meaning of the incident and whether it will ever go back up.
Columbus was one of the first Europeans in the New World, credited by many for discovering America. However, critics say his trip began the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Columbus is also criticized for his violent treatment and killing of Native Americans, who see him as a racist. Many consider the park dedicated to white supremacy.
A Columbus statue was also vandalized in downtown Miami, and another was dragged into a lake earlier in the week in Richmond, Virginia, according to local reports.
The incidents come as pressure builds in the United States to rid the country of monuments associated with racism following massive demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis last month.
Italian explorer Columbus, long hailed by school textbooks as the so-called discoverer of “The New World,” is considered by many to have spurred years of genocide against indigenous groups in the Americas. He is regularly denounced in a similar way to Civil War generals of the pro-slavery South.
The Boston statue which stands on a plinth in the heart of town has been controversial for years, like other Columbus statues across the US, and has been vandalized in the past. The head was also cut off back in 2006. The statue was doused with red paint in June 2015 with the words “Black Lives Matter” spray-painted on the base. There has also been a push across the country to get rid of the Columbus Day holiday in October and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day.
The BLM has grown pretty powerful as many believe indigenous people have also been wronged just like black people in this country.
Boston police were alerted to the damage shortly after midnight on Tuesday, a spokesman told. An investigation is underway with the statue being surrounded by crime scene tape as the head lay on the ground next to the base.
Boston’s mayor Marty Walsh condemned the beheading but added that the statue would be removed on Wednesday pending a decision about its future, local media reported.
Protesters also defaced a Miami statue of Columbus at a waterfront park with red paint and messages that read “Our streets,” “Black Lives Matter” and “George Floyd,” before police made several arrests, according to the Miami Herald newspaper.
In Virginia, protesters used ropes to pull down the eight-foot (2.44-meter) statue and then dumped it in a nearby lake Tuesday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch said.
It echoed an incident in Bristol, England, on Sunday when demonstrators toppled a statue of a slave trader and dumped it in a harbor during anti-racism protests.
“We are going to be taking the statue down this morning and putting it into storage to assess the damage to the statue,” Walsh said. “That said, this particular statue has been subject to repeated vandalism here in Boston, and given the conversations that we’re certainly having right now in our city of Boston and throughout the country, we’re also going to take time to assess the historic meaning of this action.”