Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young defended vandals who tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus on Saturday and tossed it into the city’s Inner Harbor.
Through spokesman Lester Davis, Young called the action part of a “re-examination taking place nationally and globally around some of these monuments and statues that may represent different things to different people,” The Baltimore Sun reported.
“We understand the frustrations,” Davis continued. “What the city wants to do is serve as a national model, particularly with how we’ve done with protesting. We’ve seen people who have taken to the streets, we have supported them. We are going to continue to support it. That’s a full stop.”
Masked rioters, many clad in black, used a chain to drag the statue down as others cheered and fireworks exploded around the city to celebrate Independence Day.
Protesters just took down the Christopher Columbus statue in Baltimore’s Little Italy. pic.twitter.com/ViPk5eKOtz
— Louis Krauss (@louiskraussnews) July 5, 2020
The statue, located near Little Italy and dedicated in 1984 by former President Ronald Reagan and former Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer, is the latest memorial to the Italian explorer, who discovered the New World for Europe in 1492, to be toppled by vandals as protests sparked by the death of George Floyd continue across the country.
Last month, Columbus statues in Richmond, Virginia and Boston, Massachusetts were brought down. The Richmond statue was set on fire and thrown into a lake. (RELATED: The Cities And States That Jettisoned Christopher Columbus)
The statue removal was part of broader, citywide protests, The Baltimore Sun reported:
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.
It was unclear whether police were told to stand down as the statue was removed, but the mayor’s spokesman reportedly said police “are principally concerned with the preservation of life.”
“That is sacrosanct,” he said. “Everything else falls secondary to that, including statues.”