Police surround Columbus statue after flyer promoting vandalism surfaces


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Officers surrounded the Christopher Columbus statue on Elmwood Avenue after receiving a tip that it would be targeted by vandals Tuesday night.

A flyer circulating on social media advertised an organized attack on the statue at 11 p.m., leaving police on high alert.

“Bring masks, gloves, rope and tools to break the plywood box,” the flyer said, referencing the protective barrier covering the statue.

The statue was boarded up last week after officers received a tip that it would be defaced and destroyed by vandals. Three people, including a Pawtucket teacher, were arrested after splashing the plywood box with paint last weekend.

By 10:30 p.m., dozens of Rhode Island State Police troopers and Providence Police officers had converged at the statue to keep watch.

The statue has been vandalized several times within recent years, including twice last year; once on Columbus Day and the other just days before Thanksgiving.

The vandalism sparked a debate over whether or not to move the statue to Federal Hill, though one city councilor introduced legislation opposing the relocation and another argued it should be removed from the city completely.

RI Indian Council: Now is the time to discuss Columbus statue’s history, learn from past mistakes»

This comes just after a Christopher Columbus statue in Worcester was hit around 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Surveillance video released by investigators shows two men showering the statue in red paint.

Crews were out Tuesday morning power washing the paint off of the statue. Police said the bucket of paint was left behind and they’re still looking for the two who did it.

Christopher Columbus statues across the nation have been under scrutiny the past month as the nation grapples with racial injustice. The historical figure, according to many protesters, is a symbol of racism due to his treatment and colonization of Native Americans.

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