Following the violent clashes between white supremacist protesters and Antifa counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month, vandals in a number of cities across the country have defaced or, in some cases, completely destroyed Confederate monuments.
One of the most recent instances occurred Tuesday night in Yonkers, New York, about one mile north of New York City, according to WNBC-TV. But unlike other vandalism incidents in recent weeks, the Christopher Columbus statue police say was beheaded overnight in Yonkers is not even a Confederate statue.
Columbus, of course, was the first explorer to discover the New World, which eventually led to the discovery of North America.
Critics of Columbus statues, however, point to his treatment of Native Americans and involvement in the slave trade.
Such criticism even led New York City Democratic Mayor Bill De Blasio to recently commission a task force charged with reviewing whether to remove the iconic statue of Columbus in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle.
But plenty of people, like Yonkers resident Pat Gamberdella, say that statues of Columbus are important to the country’s history. On Wednesday, Gamberdella said he was just driving to work when he noticed that history had been destroyed. Specifically, he found a statue of Christopher Columbus in Yonkers’ Columbus Memorial Park beheaded.
“It’s unfortunate because I did go up there and I did see it all smashed,” Gamerdella told WNBC-TV. Gamberdella reported the incident to police.
The head of the statue was later found in the same park, lying next to a plastic bag.
The brazen act of vandalism came just weeks after 32-year-old Heather Heyer died as result of violent clashes between white supremacist protesters and Antifa counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. White supremacists were protesting the city’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which city crews have since covered up.
The incident in Charlottesville prompted cities across the country to rethink confederate statues in their own localities. In Yonkers, Gamberdella and some other residents say statues like the one of Columbus are an important part of history.
Others, however, say the beheaded statue should have been removed a long time ago.
Police in Yonkers said they are investigating the act of vandalism. It was not immediately clear who is responsible.
The Yonkers statue was not the first statue in the country to be beheaded recently. Outside the Crawford County courthouse in Ohio, a statue of Revolutionary War soldier Colonel William Crawford was also found beheaded late last week, WJW-TV reported.
Ohio lawyer Joel Spitzer posted photos of the vandalism on Facebook and personally offered $1,000 to anyone with information leading to an arrest.
(H/T: The Hill)