What is thought to be one of America’s oldest monuments to Italian explorer Christopher Columbus located in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, was vandalized. Baltimore Police are looking into the incident, which spokesman T.J. Smith says they believe occurred early yesterday morning. The base of the 225-year-old monument, upon which a two-story-tall obelisk sits, was damaged by a sledgehammer.
While police have no lead on suspects, they do have video evidence of that crime since the destruction of the monument was posted to YouTube by a channel named “Popular Resistance.” There are two men in the video, one hitting the base with a sledgehammer and the other holding a sign that reads, “Racism, tear it down.” A second sign was taped to the monument of Columbus which said, “The future is economic and racial justice.”
Baltimore Police are looking for any information regarding the two men, as well as whoever was behind the camera filming the whole thing. Due to the damage, the inscription on the base that read “Sacred to the memory of Chris. Columbus, Octob. XII, MDCCVIIIC” was completely gone with a large hole in its place. The signs from the video were left at the monument and could have fingerprint evidence for police to use in their search for the suspects.
The destruction of the monument to Christoper Columbus comes on the heels of a number of incidents across the country involving statues and monuments being taken down or vandalized. This has all been sparked by last month’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in violent clashes with counter protesters and ended when a Neo-Nazi sympathizer drove his car into a crowd.
It was only a week ago in Baltimore that four monuments relating to the Confederacy were taken down. This comes as cities, government officials, and universities across America look to take down or reassess their monuments and statues. However, some have decided to try to force the issue by vandalizing monuments and statues instead of waiting for a decision to be made on their removal.
Last week in Durham, North Carolina, a group of protesters took matters into their own hands and pulled down the Confederate Soldiers Monument. At Duke University, also in Durham, officials decided to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee from the campus chapel after parts of his face were chipped off. In West Palm Beach, Florida, the county’s last Confederate monument is finally being removed after it was vandalized with the words “Antifa (expletive) Nazi and KKK.”
These incidents clearly showed that vandalizing a monument may finally get officials to have them removed, which could explain an increase in these types of incidents and is a potentially dangerous precedent to set. However, like with the Columbus monument in Baltimore, these are not all limited to just Confederate monuments.
A statue of Columbus in Boston’s Northend was also vandalized this weekend, as it was covered in red paint and spray painted with “Black Lives Matter.” In California, a statue of Father Junipero Serra in the Mission Hills District of Los Angeles was also covered in red paint with the word “murderer” written on Serra. These are only some of the examples of statues and monuments across the country that have been vandalized in recent weeks.