Abigail Miller, Daily Mail, September 12, 2017
— Christen Clifford (@cd_clifford) September 12, 2017
The statue of Christopher Columbus in Central Park was vandalized on Tuesday with blood-red paint on his hands and the words ‘Hate will not be tolerated’ on the pedestal.
The defacer also left an ominous note at the bottom of the seven-foot-tall bronze statue that reads: ‘#somethingiscoming’.
A Central Park Conservancy employee came across the painted-on statue around 7am Tuesday and immediately called the police, the New York Post reported.
The statue is located in the southern portion of the park at the foot of The Mall walkway near Center Drive.
A piece of paper was also attacked to the pedestal that said: ‘Save your soul’ – again with the hashtag ‘#somethingiscoming’.
The messages likely refer to the failed explorer’s legacy of rape and murder of native people when he landed in America, thinking he toured the world and reached India.
Shari Berger said the vandalism didn’t surprise her.
‘It reflects a lot of what’s going on in the world right now, it’s about the unrest in the world,’ the 54-year-old told the Post as she was walking her dog.
However, Berger said the graffiti bothered her because ‘it’s not positive, it’s destructive.’
Another New Yorker, Sallyanne said the vandalism didn’t bother her, and that it was an act of free speech.
‘I’d rather see that [free speech] than violence,’ the 35-year-old from Brooklyn explained.
‘We’re reflecting on our past and terrible things that happened.’
But to Lois Hammett, a tourist from Tennessee walking through the park, the sight of vandalism in an otherwise beautiful park was ‘disgraceful.’
‘That’s the first thing I’ve seen in New York that makes me feel saddened and angry,’ Hammet said.
‘We have legal ways of protesting.’
Central Park Conservancy employees quickly removed the graffiti with acetone on Tuesday morning, and one was overheard saying that the red paint on Columbus’ hands might be hard to remove.
The conservancy is a nonprofit that oversees maintenance in the park.
Monuments named after the controversial 15th century explorer have become a topic of contention all around the United States amid a national debate about statues honoring infamous figures.
The debate got even louder in August when a white supremacist ran his car into a crowd of people protesting a white power march in Charlottesville, Virginia. The white power march was in protest of the removal of a statue of the infamous confederate leader Robert E Lee.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio put together a commission to review and recommend removal of any monuments deemed oppressive in light of the protests.
One of those statues is the 76-foot structure honoring the failed explorer in the center of the roundabout at Columbus circle.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has urged for that one to be taken down.