Protesters in Baltimore, Maryland, tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus on Saturday night and threw it into the city's Inner Harbor, according to a report by The Baltimore Sun. The demonstrators were supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has been extraordinarily active since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd on May 25. The protesters reportedly said that Columbus had even more blood on his hands.
The statue torn down on Saturday was city-owned and dedicated by former Mayor William Donald Schaefer and President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Protesters reportedly threw ropes around the monument to pull it down. It was located near Baltimore's "Little Italy" neighborhood. Baltimore's Columbus statue is one of many to be vandalized in recent weeks, including a Boston statue which was decapitated last week.
Protesters just took down the Christopher Columbus statue in Baltimore’s Little Italy. pic.twitter.com/ViPk5eKOtz— Louis Krauss (@louiskraussnews) July 5, 2020
Historical records show credible accounts that Columbus was cruel and violent towards the Native people he encountered in his explorations. In 2013, newly discovered documentation showed that Columbus' subordinates had told the Spanish Queen Isabella of his "tyranny and incompetence," according to a report by The Guardian. Queen Isabella responded by removing Columbus from power in the new world, and appointing investigators to look into Columbus' "brutality."
Columbus' crimes reportedly included torture, mutilation, sexual assault and enslavement against anyone who displeased him, ruling with totalitarian cruelty. At the same time, he was far from the first European to reach the Americas, so protesters argue that there is no reason at all to venerate him in the history of the United States.
Statues of Columbus in Miami, Florida; Richmond, Virginia; and St. Paul, Minnesota have all been vandalized in recent weeks. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, California, a statue of the explorer was taken down voluntarily by the city government. Local officials reportedly said that Columbus' actions "do not deserve to be venerated."
Another statue was reportedly taken down pre-emptively near California's state capital building in Sacramento, indicating that historical perspectives are beginning to shift. However, the biggest battle of all is being fought over the name of the city Columbus, Ohio.
Activists have long called for Columbus to get a name change, with many advocating for a Native American name with some meaning to be applied. Last month, those calls got amplified by a viral petition online, calling on the city of Columbus to rename itself "Flavortown" after Ohio native Guy Fieri. The petition argued that Christopher Columbus "is in The Bad Place because of all his raping, slave trading, and genocide," whereas Fieri is "such a good dude, really."
So far, Columbus has made no official moves to change its name, but it is clear that protesters are making some tangible strides in enhancing the United States' perception of its own history.