A group of protesters pulled down a Christopher Columbus statue in Baltimore, Maryland, and threw it into a river.
Around 8 p.m. on the Fourth of July, the protesters tied rope around the statue’s arms and neck and pulled it down, reported WBAL. Video footage showed protesters cheering after it crashed to the ground. The remains were dragged to the Inner Harbor and tossed into the waters of the Patapsco River. As of Sunday afternoon, the rope and pieces of the statue were still submerged.
The sculpture was erected in Baltimore’s Little Italy neighborhood in 1984 and was dedicated by former Mayor William Donald Schaefer and President Ronald Reagan, according to The Baltimore Sun. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan condemned the protesters’ actions on Sunday morning.
“While we welcome peaceful protests and constructive dialogue on whether and how to put certain monuments in context or move them to museums or storage through a legal process, lawlessness, vandalism, and destruction of public property is completely unacceptable,” Hogan said in a statement posted on Facebook.
“That is the antithesis of democracy and should be condemned by everyone, regardless of their politics,” the statement continued. “Baltimore City leaders need to regain control of their own streets and immediately start making them safer.”
City Council President Brandon Scott told WBAL he previously suggested removing the statue due to Columbus’ genocidal history.
“I suggested that the last administration remove this statue when they removed the Confederate monuments. I support Baltimore’s Italian American community and Baltimore’s indigenous community. I cannot, however, support Columbus,” Scott said on Saturday night.
Since George Floyd died in Minneapolis Police custody on Memorial Day, statues of Columbus and other racist figures have been removed in cities across the country. Some were taken down by protesters, and others have been removed through official actions. President Donald Trump criticized people who tore down statues during a Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore.
“Make no mistake, this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution,” Trump said. “In so doing, they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence and hunger and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery and progress,” he continued. “To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol and memory of our national heritage.”
On June 23, Trump tweeted that he authorized the federal government to arrest anyone who destroys or defaces any statues or monuments. He evoked the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, which does not require any presidential authorization.
“I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the U.S. with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent,” Trump tweeted.
“This action is taken effective immediately but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!”