A more than 200-year-old monument to Christopher Columbus was smashed with a sledgehammer in Baltimore, Maryland, on August 21 in opposition to the “culture of white supremacy” he represents, according to reports.
A video posted on YouTube shows a man approaching a 44-foot tall obelisk, allegedly the oldest monument to Columbus in the U.S., with a sign reading “the future is racial and economic justice.” Moments later, the man begins to bash the monument with a sledgehammer as another unidentified person stands nearby with a placard reading, “racism, tear it down.”
Meanwhile, the video’s narrator discusses why the group decided to smash the monument. “Christopher Columbus symbolizes the initial invasion of European capitalism into the Western Hemisphere,” the narrator says. “Columbus initiated a centuries-old wave of terrorism, murder, genocide, rape, slavery, ecological degradation and capitalist exploitation of labor in the Americas. That Columbian wave of destruction continues on the backs of Indigenous, African-American and brown people.”
The narrator goes on to refer to such statues to Columbus as “a slap in the face.”
“Racist monuments to slave owners and murderers have always bothered me. Baltimore’s poverty is concentrated in African-American households, and these statues are just an extra slap in the face. They were built in the 20th century in response to a movement for African Americans’ human dignity. What kind of a culture goes to such lengths to build such hate-filled monuments? What kind of a culture clings to those monuments in 2017?”
“Christopher Columbus” was trending on Twitter August 21 with some users praising the vandalism and others condemning it.
Prior to his planned voyage from Europe to Asia, which, by accident, landed him in the Caribbean, Columbus was a slave trader for the Portuguese. He was later found guilty of crimes against humanity and was taken in chains back to Europe. Lately, a growing number of cities and states have abandoned Columbus Day in place for Indigenous Peoples Day.
A few days prior to the bashing of the Columbus monument, the city of Baltimore had removed four Confederate statues in the night. Across the country, Natives have been calling for the removal of monuments to Columbus as well given his documented role in the persecution of Natives. Some activists have taken it upon themselves to knock down and deface monuments to the known slave trader.
Culture Editor Simon Moya-Smith contributed to this report.