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Statues of Christopher Columbus attacked in Boston, Miami and Virginia

In the wake of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, launched in the United States by the death of George Floyd, several statues of colonial figures and/or slavers have been debunked in recent days across the country. In Richmond, Virginia, a statue of Christopher Columbus was even thrown into a lake Tuesday evening.

A statue of Christopher Columbus was beheaded in Boston, another vandalized in Miami and a third jetty in a lake in Virginia, in the wake of the anti-racist movement revived in the United States by the death of George Floyd.

In Boston, Massachusetts, an investigation is underway but no arrests have been made at this point, a spokesman for the local police said on Wednesday. The statue of the Italian explorer is perched on a stele in Christopher Columbus Park, in the heart of this New England city. It had already been vandalized before, the image of Christopher Columbus having been disputed in the United States for several years.

The Genoese navigator, long presented as the “discoverer of America”, is now often considered as one of the figures of the genocide of the Amerindians and the natives in general. And denounced in the same way as the slavers or the Confederate generals during the American Civil War.

“Like the blacks of this country, the natives have been mistreated”

Dozens of American cities replaced the October celebration of “Columbus Day” – which became a federal holiday in 1937 – with a day of tribute to “indigenous peoples”. But not Boston or New York, which have strong communities of Italian origin to which this day pays tribute. “I think it’s good to capitalize” on the wave of protests against racism that is currently shaking the United States, said a jogger who passed the damaged monument in Boston on Wednesday. “Like the blacks of this country, the natives have been ill-treated. This movement is powerful and (the beheading) is very symbolic”.

In Miami, Florida, a statue of Christopher Columbus in a park was vandalized with red paint and inscriptions like “Black Lives Matter” or “George Floyd”, before the police did make several arrests, according to local daily Miami Herald.

Pier in a lake

Another explorer’s statue was shot dead Tuesday by protesters using ropes in Richmond, Virginia, and dragged to a nearby lake into which it was thrown. The governor of Virginia – the region where the first English settlers settled before it became the heart of enslaving America – had indicated last week that they wanted to quickly unbolt another statue of the city, that of the commander-in-chief of the Southern Army, General Robert E. Lee.   

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said the statue in his city would be removed as early as Wednesday, pending a final decision, local media said. This movement which attacks the symbols of slavery and racist past affects other countries, in particular, Great Britain and Belgium, where statues of colonial figures have been attacked in recent days.

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