(CNS News) – A group of radical protesters, many of them dressed in black and wearing black masks, tore down a large statue of Christopher Columbus in Little Italy, near the Baltimore Inner Harbor in Maryland on July 4, and then tossed the statue into the harbor.
The vandals used ropes to pull down the statue and then drag it to the harbor, where it was thrown into the water, reported WBAL-TV11.
A large crowd of more peaceful demonstrators cheered on the vandals as they destroyed the statue, which was erected in 1994 and dedicated by President Ronald Reagan and Baltimore Mayor William Schaefer.
In addition to the statue, there are reliefs on the pedestal depicting the ships used for Columbus’s 1492 voyage: the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. The dedication on the base reads, “Christopher Columbus, Discoverer of America, October 12, 1942. Dedicated to the City of Baltimore by the Italian American Organization United of Maryland and the Italian American Community of Baltimore in Commemoration of the Discovery of America. October 12, 1984.”
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) issued a statement on Facebook on July 5, saying, “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.”
“That is the antithesis of democracy and should be condemned by everyone, regardless of their politics,” he said. “Baltimore City leaders need to regain control of their own streets and immediately start making them safer.”
The president of Baltimore’s city council, Brandon Scott, also released a statement late Saturday night, saying, “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 is also the Democratic nominee for Baltimore mayor.
In contrast, New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed his support last month for a Columbus statue in NYC, saying, “I understand the feelings about Christopher Columbus and some of his acts, which nobody would support. But the statue has come to represent and signify appreciation for the Italian-American contribution to New York. For that reason, I support it.”
"The first recorded celebration of Columbus Day in the United States took place on October 12, 1792," according to the Library of Congress. "Organized by the Society of St. Tammany, also known as the Columbian Order, it commemorated the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ landing.... The 400th anniversary of the event inspired the first official Columbus Day holiday in the United States."
Political attacks on Christopher Columbus’ legacy and his representation in U.S. culture have been occurring for more than 100 years, and nearly all of them stem from anti-Catholic and anti-Italian bigotry, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA) and the Knights of Columbus.
As reported by the CNA, “attacks on Columbus and Columbus Day were originated by the very group that has historically led racist attacks on blacks. These attacks were created in the 1920s by the Ku Klux Klan as part of a targeted assault on Italians, Catholics, and the Catholic charitable group the Knights of Columbus.”
“[I]n addition to African Americans, the Klan hated Catholics and Jews as well,” said the CNA. “And they had a particular hatred for the Knights of Columbus. Not only was this a Catholic group, but it was a group that stood publicly – at its highest levels – with the African American community.”
The website Truth About Columbus reports,
- In the 1920s, the Klan attempted to remove Columbus Day as a state holiday in Oregon.
- In 1924, the Klan burned a cross to disturb a Columbus Day celebration in Pennsylvania.
- A Klan publication, “The American Standard,” ran an article titled “Columbus Day, A Papal Fraud” in 1924.
- In 1927, the Klan successfully opposed the erection of a statue of Columbus in Richmond, Va., only to see the decision to reject the statue reversed.
Former Vanderbilt University Professor of Law Carol Swain, whose work has been cited by the Supreme Court, explains that the KKK was founded by the Democrat Nathan Bedford Forrest and was used by racists to persecute black Americans (and Jews and Catholics) in the post-Civil War United States.
Swain cites historian Eric Foner, himself a Democrat, who said, “In effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic Party.”