San Francisco's Christopher Columbus Statue Defaced As Others Topple

Melissa Culross
June 14, 2020 - 3:37 pm

    Vandals have again targeted the Christopher Columbus statue in San Francisco, this time as a worldwide conversation about statues with a controversial or racist connection grows.

    Red paint now covers the figure’s face and hands after the statue, which stands in front of famous Coit Tower, was defaced late last week.

    Along with racial justice protests happening across the country, a movement to remove monuments and statues considered to be symbols of slave trades and racism has gained momentum worldwide in recent weeks following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

    San Francisco's Christopher Columbus statue was vandalized late last week.
    Andy Clausen/KCBS Radio

    San Francisco State University History Professor Emeritus Bill Issel told KCBS Radio that cultural perspective today is influenced by awareness.

    "The horrible history we have of particular ethnic groups trying to wipe out groups that they consider the undesirable other," Issel said.

    Columbus had been embraced as a hero by Italian Americans facing discrimination and violence in the 19th and 20th centuries, but history has been amended in recent decades as the explorer and his men also enslaved indigenous people in the Caribbean and brought widespread disease to the New World.

    "We are very much in a world shaped by the aftermath of the horrible ethnic and territory-grabbing mentality," Issel said.

    This isn’t anything new.

    The San Francisco statue, which has stood since 1957, has been vandalized before.