PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A statue of Christopher Columbus in Providence was defaced on a day commemorating his landing in the Americas in 1492.
Vandals on Monday splashed red paint on the statue located in Columbus Square, at the intersection of Elmwood and Reservoir Avenues.
The vandalism comes amid a push around the country to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day in order to recognize the victims of colonialism.
Michael Purcell lives near Columbus Square. He rides by often and says he’s seen other political messages in smaller graffiti, but the paint and profanity on the front of the statue stuck out.
“I just had to stop because I was a little bit in shock,” Purcell said. “This is really bold.”
He wasn’t alone. Throughout the afternoon people stopped by, taking pictures of the vandalized statue.
In recent years, some have become more outspoken against Columbus due to how Native Americans were treated when he arrived in the Americas. One of the people to stop by the statue was Darrell Waldron, executive director of the Rhode Island and Regional Indian Council.
“America was built on the graves of Native Americans, they always portrayed us as the villains, never the heroes,” he said.
Waldron and most others passing by agreed that defacing property is wrong but understand the possible point behind the paint.
“I think the message is actually valid, this is just a terrible way to do it, this is never cool, vandalism is wrong,” said Larry Loverde.
“It’s public property, you don’t like to see things defaced,” Waldron added.
“I get their point, I just don’t think that’s really the way to do it,” Purcell said.
Eyewitness News reached out to the mayor’s office. A spokesperson says crews would be cleaning up the paint and that police are investigating.