Vandals severely damaged the oldest Christopher Columbus monument in the United States on Sunday night in the name of protesting white supremacy.
A video of the incident was shared to YouTube, and featured several people congregating around the monument in Baltimore. One of those involved in the vandalism can be seen striking the monument repeatedly with a sledgehammer, while another in attendance held a sign that read, “Racism, tear it down.”
A second sign was taped to the monument, which read, “The future is racial and economic justice.”
“Christopher Columbus symbolizes the initial invasion of European capitalism into the Western Hemisphere,” the video’s narrator — a man who identified himself as “Ty” — said. “Columbus initiated a centuries-old wave of terrorism, murder, genocide, rape, slavery, ecological degradation and capitalist exploitation of labor in the Americas.”
He added, “That Columbian wave of destruction continues on the backs of Indigenous, African-American and brown people.”
“The culture of white supremacy preceded the United States,” the man in the video said. “It’s at the foundation of U.S. culture, business, bureaucracies, and psychology. Observe how vehemently Republican and Democratic misleaders defend genocidal terrorists like Christopher Columbus and George Washington.”
The Baltimore Police Department acknowledged the vandalism and announced that it is investigating the incident.
The statue’s history
The statue is 225 years old, and is the oldest monument to Columbus in the United States.
The statue is located at Harford Road and Walther Avenue in northeast Baltimore, and at 40 feet tall, the obelisk is also said to be the oldest of its kind in the world.
Prior to the plaque’s destruction, insignia on the statue read, “Sacred to the Memory of Chris. Columbus Octob. XII MDCC VIIIC,” and was erected in 1792.
Why Christopher Columbus?
Columbus has become an increasingly polarizing figure over the last several decades, with many cities around the U.S. renaming “Columbus Day” as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” instead.
Many over the years have argued that Columbus isn’t worthy of American commemoration, and claim that honoring him is a celebration of colonialism, and an infringement on indigenous North American peoples’ lands. Some have even argued that Columbus himself was responsible for murder and slavery.
See the full video featuring the attack on the obelisk below.