Vandals doused the statue of Christopher Columbus in Central Park with red paint and scrawled “murderer” across its stone pedestal, police said Monday.
Detectives have a video of two people — possibly a man and a woman — defacing the statue at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday with spray paint, an NYPD spokesperson said
The pair wrote “land back” on three sides of the bronze-and-granite-statue and “murderer” on another, police said.
There’s been no arrests, but the NYPD is investigating the incident. If caught, the spray paint artists will likely be charged with vandalism and making graffiti, the spokesperson said.
Metal barricades surrounded the 131-year-old statute on Monday morning, Fox News said.
The attack is part of a long string of vandalism that’s hit monuments to the famed but controversial explorer over the years – sculptures in New York, as well as in New Jersey, Boston, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Minnesota have all been defaced or outright destroyed at different times.
Some view the statues as symbols of Italian-American pride, and say that they highlight Italians’ contributions to America. Others view Columbus in a different light, and say he was a murderer and colonizer who treated Native Americans brutally when he stumbled upon the continent in 1492.
The NYPD began heavily guarding monuments in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle and Central Park during the summer of 2020, when mass protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd sparked simultaneous complaints about other historical figures who’ve been accused of oppressive acts.
Cops began conspicuously patrolling the areas after five Confederate statues were beheaded, damaged or pulled down — including one that hit a vandal in the head as it fell — in Virginia during the Floyd protests.
The NYPD reacted similarly to complaints about the monument in 2017, posting one or two officers at the Columbus Circle site around the clock ahead of Columbus’ namesake holiday in October.
Police halted the 24/7 bodyguard service in the spring of 2022. But the NYPD kept up routine patrols and installed security cameras to keep tabs on them.
Still, the statues continued to attract controversy.
Last April, the head of New York’s Italian American groups hit then-Democratic state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi for saying the Columbus Circle monument should come down in favor of “better representations of our wonderful contributions to this country.”
“Senator, it is time to drop the hate and seek the truth,” Angelo Vivolo, president of the Columbus Heritage Coalition, wrote in an open letter after Biaggi’s comments.
“I hope you realize what it means to represent all the people respectfully. When you offend one culture, you offend all.”
The New Yorkers of the New York Genealogical Society commissioned Spanish sculptor Jeronimo Sunol to complete the statue, Fox said. It was dedicated May 12, 1892, according to the city parks website.