The statue of Christopher Columbus located on Boston’s central Atlantic Avenue has been beheaded this morning after a new day of protests against racism in the United States. Several hours earlier, a group of protesters has demolished, burned and thrown into the lake another sculpture in honour of the most famous navigator in history in the Byrd Park of Richmond, in the state of Virginia. At the base, a spray paint marked the sentence: “Represents genocide.”
Of the Boston act, not too many details are known, beyond the images captured by chains such as ‘7News’ or ‘CBS’, but everything seems to indicate that the ‘modus operandi’ was similar to that of Richmond. As every afternoon since the brutality of the police ended the life of George Floyd, in this important city in the east of the country, nearly a thousand protesters gathered, converging on an effigy of Columbus that the Italian-American community erected in 1927. There was no Police presence in the area when the protesters tied ropes to tear down the work. Later, they set her on fire and rolled her to a park lake, according to the local newspaper ‘Richmond Times-Dispatch’.
Immediately afterwards, activist Chelsea Higgs-Wise addressed the crowd and vindicated the struggle of indigenous and African American peoples. “We have to start where it all started. We have to start with the people who first settled on this earth,” says the words ‘The Washington Post’. She was not the only one to intervene, the singer of Native American descent Vanessa Bolin explained that it is not about “kidnapping” the protests against police brutality, but about solidarity with other racial problems. Another speaker, Joseph Rogers, declared the Powhatan land area, referring to the tribe that dominated the state of Virginia during the first encounters with the English.
The open case against Columbus
Long since Columbus is in the spotlight. An image of Columbus in Yonkers Park in New York appeared headless in 2017, following the racist riots in Charlottesville. A few months later, the People’s Power collective demonstrated in Columbus Circle to request the withdrawal of the representation of the sailor that is exhibited in Central Park and, a time later, the monument of discord suffered graffiti with messages.
Under the same pretext, the Los Angeles City Council decided in November 2018 to remove a statue of the explorer who had spent 45 years in the Great Park of the city. It did so in the framework of a motion approved a year earlier to replace the old Discovery Day — equivalent to Hispanic Day on the other side of the Atlantic — with the Day of Indigenous Peoples.