Providence’s Columbus statue again targeted by vandal


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — For the second time in a few weeks, the statue of Christopher Columbus in Providence’s Elmwood neighborhood was splashed with red paint.

The paint was cleaned up early Monday morning but remnants could be seen at the base of the memorial located between Elmwood and Reservoir Avenues. It’s unclear at this time when the vandalism took place.

The statue was similarly defaced on Columbus Day. In addition to the red paint, a sign saying, “Stop Celebrating Genocide” was attached to its base.

Both the statue and the holiday have become points of contention. Some consider them a celebration of Italian heritage while critics say the explorer helped launch centuries of genocide against indigenous peoples.

There’s been a push to relocate the statue, potentially to Federal Hill, since it was vandalized on Columbus Day 2017. Mayor Jorge Elorza has said he wouldn’t be opposed to moving the memorial.

In a statement Monday, Elorza spokesperson Patricia Socarras said his administration is looking to create a committee to review these types of cases.

“The Mayor has spoken at length about this in recent weeks. We are the Creative Capital and we know our public art of all kinds, holds significance for our community,” she wrote. “We’ve been having these conversations with our colleagues and stakeholders around significant memorials, historical markers and monuments in public spaces and have proposed an ordinance forming a special committee to review commemorative works, like the Columbus Statue. Through this committee, we want to continue to engage community members in every step of the process and ensure that the heritage of each of our vibrant neighborhoods is honored.”

Don Angelo with the Sons and Daughters of Italy in America tells Eyewitness News the statue should be moved before the vandals take it too far.

“You’re going to see the frequency of it happening more and more,” Angelo said. “It’s going to get to the point — it’s going to go beyond vandalism, you could get a permanently damaged statue.”

Last month, City Councilwoman Kat Kerwin came out in support of the vandalism and said the statue should be removed from the city completely.

Earlier this month, Councilman James Taylor introduced a resolution seeking to prevent the statue from being moved at all.

Police are still investigating both incidents that occurred this year. So far, no arrests have been made.

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