Christopher Columbus Statue in Providence Vandalized Ahead of Holiday

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — A statue honoring Christopher Columbus in Providence was vandalized on the eve of the Columbus Day Holiday.

The statue, which is located on Elmwood Avenue in the Elmwood neighborhood of Providence, was splashed in red paint and had a sign chained to it that read, “Stop celebrating genocide.”

The paint was first noticed early Monday morning and the city had cleaned the statue by noontime.

This isn’t the first time the statue has been vandalized — similar incidents happened in 2017 and in 2010. 

A group called the Order of Sons and Daughters of Italy in America has been trying to move the statue to Federal Hill for nearly a decade.

“I think it would be appreciated there rather than in its current location,” said John Bonaventura, president of the Rhode Island chapter. 

The vandalism comes amidst a movement to stop celebrating Columbus Day and instead celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. 

Some people at the Columbus Day festival on federal Hill were upset to think that the statue was vandalized, and believe Columbus Day shouldn’t go anywhere.

“He found the country and the people here should appreciate him,” said Roberto Caputo. “A lot of things changed over time.”

“History is history and I don’t believe in really changing it,” said Brenda Gates. “I think they should just keep their spray painting to their own houses.”

But for Native Americans in Rhode Island it’s not the case.

According to Loren Spears, Executive Director of the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, as it stands now the country is celebrating atrocities.

“Disease, horror of genocide, horror of enslavement,” she said. “The legacy of Columbus is not as glorified as it’s depicted.”

Making matters worse, according to Spears, the lessons taught about Columbus takes a lot away from Native Americans.

“What really hurts is consistently and pervasively being taught the myth in school and negating the right of indigenous peoples as the first peoples of this land,” Spears said.

It’s a sentiment shared by Darrell Waldron, Executive Director of the Rhode Island regional Indian Center.

“I think about it as a day of mourning, you know because just so many children died, moms, families,” Waldron said.

And although he doesn’t condone the vandalism, Waldron can see where the vandals are coming from.

“They’re expressing what we’ve been thinking for a long time,” he said.




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