Press "Enter" to skip to content

225-year-old Columbus statue defaced, pending repairment or replacement

The Baltimore director of Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, Eric Holcomb, announced that the 225-year-old Christopher Columbus monument, vandalized in August following the removal of four controversial statues, may be repaired and rededicated to include native Americans.

Holcomb, whose prerogative as the director is to preserve the obelisk, must leave the decision to either replace or repair the statue in the hands of Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh, who has between 30-60 days to make a decision.

Following the defacement, City Councilman Ryan Dorsey began to survey members in the surrounding community about their interest in or concern for the future of the statue. Dorsey hopes to replace the statue to represent “current-day values,” according to the Baltimore Sun.

Dorsey explained that the community believes there is a better alternative than rededicating the statue and that the community should continue to give suggestions until Pugh reaches a public decision.

The destruction of the statue on Aug. 21 followed the removal of four confederate statues by Pugh. On Aug. 16, Pugh made the move in response to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which ignited over the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. 

Prior to Pugh’s decision, a special commission reviewed all of the confederate monuments in Baltimore, and interpretive plaques were installed until the ultimate removal of the monuments.

In the two minute video posted by YouTube user Popular Resistance, the speaker names himself as Ty, and approaches the statue with two other men. One of the men attached a sign to the obelisk that read, “The future is racial and economic justice.” The same man began to smash the plaque while the other man holds another sign, “racism, tear it down.”

The owner of the Popular Resistance YouTube page does not appear to be affiliated with the creators of the video, and the majority of the user’s content is dedicated to local Maryland politics. “Part of our evolution as humans requires tearing down monuments to destructive forces, and tearing down systems that maintain them,” said the narrator of the video. 

Currently, Ty and his collaborators are unknown, but a police investigation remains open, as their protest is an illegal act of vandalism.

The statue, a 44-foot tall obelisk, was made in 1792 in honor of the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ then-heralded first expedition to the Bahamas. The monument that originally resided on Frenchman Chevalier d’Anemours estate was moved before being donated and moved to Heinz Park in 1963.  

The Heinz Park monument is not the only Baltimore statue dedicated to Columbus; in 1982 and 1984, two more statues were erected: one in Druid Hill Park, and another in East Harbor by then-president Ronald Reagan.

Pugh has yet to release any information on the fate of the Heinz Columbus monument.