Rather than celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks and backyard barbecues, protesters in Baltimore’s Little Italy spent the evening toppling a Christopher Columbus statue, dragging it to the edge of the city’s Inner Harbor, and dumping it in the water.
The statue is only the latest across the United States to be torn down amid protests fueled by anger over race relations on the left. The monument was owned by the city and dedicated in 1984, by former Mayor William Donald Schaefer and President Ronald Reagan. The former statue stood facing the direction from which Columbus’ boats arrived in the Americas in 1492.
The Baltimore Sun reported the statue was taken around the city as protestors made several stops to declare their message, including chanting outside of a restaurant that was recently criticized for refusing service to a black woman and her son.
“The Columbus statue was dragged down as people marched across the city Saturday demanding reallocation of funds from the police department to social services, a reassessment of the public education system, reparations for Black people, housing for the homeless, and the removal of all statues ‘honoring white supremacists, owners of enslaved people, perpetrators of genocide, and colonizers,’ according to a flyer,” the Baltimore Sun said.
Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott issued a statement Saturday night confirming he has called for the statue to be removed since 2017 when the city removed all Confederate statues.
“I support Baltimore’s Italian-American community and Baltimore’s indigenous community. I cannot, however, support Columbus,” Scott said.
Two other Columbus monuments remain in the city, for now. The oldest, which was erected in 1792, is an obelisk that has been under fire since 2017 when a video of a man using a sledgehammer in an attempt to deface it circulated. Since then, Baltimore City Councilman Ryan Dorsey has sought to rename the statue and recently created a bill to rename the obelisk the Police Violence Victims Monument.
A spokesman for Democratic Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said after the event on Saturday that Baltimore seeks to be an example of the global conversation regarding which historical figures deserve to be honored and how statues hold different meanings to various groups.
“We understand the dynamics that are playing out in Baltimore are part of a national narrative.”