Protesters beheaded a Christopher Columbus statue in Connecticut, tossed another into Baltimore’s harbor and set fire to a “pioneer family” sculpture in Portland, Oregon, over the Fourth of July weekend as clashes over controversial monuments continued to rage across the country.
“While we welcome peaceful protests and constructive dialogue on whether and how to put certain monuments in context or move them to museums through a legal process, lawlessness, vandalism and destruction of public property is completely unacceptable,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a Facebook post on Sunday after the Columbus statue in Baltimore was committed to the seas.
“Baltimore city leaders need to regain control of their own streets and immediately start making them safer,” Hogan wrote. “That is the antithesis of democracy and should be condemned by everyone, regardless of their politics.”
The marble statue of Columbus, which stood on a pedestal near Baltimore’s Little Italy neighborhood, was set upon by demonstrators on Saturday night, the Fourth of July.
The crowd attached ropes to it and toppled it to the ground before dragging it to the Inner Harbor and rolling it into the water.
The statue was erected in 1984 and dedicated by then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer and then-President Ronald Reagan.
It wasn’t the only monument to the 15th-century Italian explorer targeted over the weekend.
In Waterbury, Conn., police discovered on Saturday morning that the head of a 12-foot-tall granite Columbus statue near City Hall had been lopped off overnight and was still missing.
“This was a gift to the city of Waterbury from the Italian-Americans, and it’s unfortunate that it’s been desecrated in this manner,” David X. Sullivan, a local congressional candidate, told KARK-TV.
Statues of historic figures — including Columbus, George Washington, Confederate figures and other slave owners — have become a target of Black Lives Matter demonstrations as national racial unrest has renewed debates over their mixed legacies.
Portland, Oregon, police also declared a riot on Saturday as protesters torched “The Promised Land,” a sculpture in a park outside the city’s justice center, according to the Daily Mail.
Commemorating the Oregon Trail, the bronze sculpture depicts a pioneer father, mother and son.
Demonstrators also tried to torch the justice center itself, the newspaper reported.
President Trump has condemned the desecration of monuments. At his rally at Mount Rushmore on Friday, he vowed to sign an executive order to create “the national garden of American heroes that would feature statues of great Americans.”
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