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Christopher Columbus Statues In Several States Are Being Vandalized

Patrick 16 Oct 2019

With Christopher Columbus Day becoming the source of ever more controversy, statues in several states were vandalized on Monday in protest of a day dedicated to the controversial figure.

As Columbus Day came and went, in certain states several statues were vandalized.

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Christopher Columbus statues in Providence and San Francisco were doused in red paint on the day supposed to celebrate the Italian explorer.

Some statues also had messages attached to them in criticism of the Italian explorer's legacy.

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Some messages were chained to statues while others were painted upon them.

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A sign reading, "Stop celebrating genocide," was chained to one statue in downtown Rhode Island, while a statue in San Francisco had, "Destroy all monuments of genocide and kill all colonizers," spray-painted across its facade.

San Francisco is incidentally one of the cities which does not celebrate Christopher Columbus Day, but instead celebrates Indigenous People's Day.

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There have been widespread calls to put a stop to Christopher Columbus Day.

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There have been calls for the name of Columbus Day to be changed to Indigenous People's Day, in recognition of the people who were forced out by European explorers.

Several states and cities —such as Maine, New Mexico, and Vermont — have embraced the change and now observe Indigenous People's Day instead of Columbus Day; however, lots of places across America still celebrate Columbus Day.

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For lots of indigenous people, Columbus Day propagates a dangerous narrative in American society.

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One of the voices critical of Columbus Day is one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, Rep. Deb Haaland. In a statement to NBC News (unrelated to the acts of vandalism) she said:

"Celebrating Columbus Day continues a dangerous narrative that erases Native American voices and minimizes the federal government’s attempt at genocide and forced assimilation."

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However, people have criticized the manner of this protest.

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One Gina Williams, who's grandparents are part Apache, told KRON that, while she understands why someone would want to vandalize the statue, this form of protest is unnecessary. In relation to the vandalization of the San Francisco statue, Ms. Williams told KRON:

"This was unnecessary. These are our tax dollars that have to clean this. You made the mess — do you realize it's still coming out of your pocket? People don't think. They just don't think."

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Workers were quick to try and clean off the paint from the statues.

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The actions committed towards the statues have caused a wild response across social media, with some people defending their right to celebrate their heritage, and others pointed out that Columbus's part in colonizing North America, brutally killing indigenous people, and spreading slavery, is not something that should be celebrated.

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Discussion on social media quickly got very heated.

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One article published by the Washington Post called, "Getting rid of Columbus Day entirely is a sad development", put forward a very morally confused argument for the day to be upheld. The article ultimately concluded that "We are not perfect, but no human society ever is. We are simply what we have always been: a good society trying to get better. Columbus Day should be a celebration of that."

But should it be that? It feels quite naive to say that this day should celebrate "trying" to be better. Surely, the more desirable option would be to actually be better, by not celebrating this man and his actions. We should of course remember and be taught about the history of Christopher Columbus, but it should not be celebrated surely?

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The debate is still raging across social media in regards to these protesting Columbus Day celebrations.

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While more and more places across America are beginning to celebrate Indigenous People's Day over Columbus Day, it is unlikely that Columbus Day will be completely removed any time soon.

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The question on most people's minds is, is this type of protest correct?

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A lot of people who support the name of the day being changed to Indigenous People's Day have condemned the actions of these protestors. According to CNN, executive director of the Rhode Island Indian Council, Darrell Waldron, said he did not condone the vandalism, despite understanding why someone would want to take such actions.

h/t: CNN & Washington Post & NBC

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