The white marble Christopher Columbus Statue was vandalized on Monday night at the namesake park on the Boston’s North End waterfront. On the back of the foundation block, the words “Black Lives Matter” were written.

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A large amount of red paint was poured over the top and sides of the statue. A trail of the red paint led to the container being found on Commercial Street near Sargent’s Wharf.


On Tuesday morning, the Boston Parks Department worked on cleaning and restoring the statue.

The statue in Christopher Columbus Park has been defaced with red paint in the past, often around Columbus Day. The head of the statue was cut off in 2006 and went missing for six days.

Photos by Stephen Passacantilli.

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42 COMMENTS

    • Mark Petrigno. I wonder if you knew my father. Guisto. very interesting and accurate. it's easy to visualize the way you write. I own the Connah Store, formally Macalusso's.

      For the same reason there was looting and total destruction

      • I knew your father and your uncle’s especially Billy, we are about the same age. Your father and my brother in law Charles Capraro were friends. My street name is “Sonny”.

  1. Question is: who really did this? If I was white and angry and feeling marginalized and I wanted to piss (sorry) a lot of people off by trying to start a racial skirmish, I can see enough motive to cause doubt. We need look no farther in Boston than the late suicidal/wife murderer Charles Stuart to see how easily a perverted mind can play to stereotypes and white fear.

    I obviously know nothing about who dunnit. Speaking personally, something does not smell right. This came to mind when I read in the previous post that the perpetrator was non-white (“How does an act like this support their cause?”). Not that anyone asked.

    • If they didn’t do it, then they should be right out there this morning not only denying the act, but denouncing it. I don’t hear them, do you?

      • Denying, denouncing… They (and by “they” I mean anyone with a clue, be it black, white or alien green) should be out there cleaning the statue and restoring normalcy. Instead there’s hand-wringing, white guilt, reflection, deflection… all but action.

  2. Cowardly act by a group that’s becoming more and more irrelevant with moves like this. Try doing this in the daytime….

  3. Well, my name is on the base of that statue along with those of my wife and children.
    Does this mean Italian/American lives don’t matter? Truly bizarre and just plain stupid.

    • I’m a little confused as to how saying black lives matter somehow means your life doesn’t. Christopher Columbus is probably the biggest symbol of colonialism, and racism is a social construct created in order to strengthen the European colonial drive. It follows then that anyone fighting against racism would have some serious issues with Columbus. Not to mention the genocide of native people. But I’m sure this was about you.

      • Dont hide behind nuance. The crew from BlackLivesMatter only state that ALL lives matter when they get called out for acts like this, and just what you’re stating. Otherwise, they have made it very clear that they are only concerned about black lives, or lives of color. When a white guy gets shot by the police, they are nowhere to be found. Big Al and Jessie only come out for the black guy, no one lese. So dont make it sound like this is a cause for all, it’s only for them. They are only in it for themselves, which is typical.

    • Apology accepted, I could have been more specific. It just irritates me to think some idiot thinks he or she could deface a work of art to support a cause.

      • Martin Luther did just that with a church in Germany in 1517 (legend, granted, but a well known one). It’s not the act that matters, it’s how community reacts to it. If community thinks that this is a fair way to get attention for a specific cause, it’ll support it. If not, it’ll protect itself. Simple.

      • Well, its not hard to believe, when people tore an entire town apart for a cause and that was pretty much ridiculous and really only for the benefit of those stealing and robbing to put things in their own pocket. I am speaking in regards to those in Baltimore that looted the night that they destroyed many peoples business and took what was not theirs. This in my mind had nothing to do with standing up for what you believe in, nor does defacing a statue of history.

  4. I find it interesting that the Confederate Flag hung on the Common memorial is getting more attention than this. Way to go media…bias much?

  5. Through most of these postings, I notice “they” and “we” and “our” and “their.” Lots of use, not much clarity about their meaning, and with a sense of separation between. I miss any references to the larger “us”, so allow me to wedge that in. Seems that is one way to pull up and beyond this disgusting act of vandalism.

  6. This is beautiful. I appreciate this direct action and the attention it brings to Columbus’ role in decimating indigenous people and paving the way for colonization and slave trading here in Boston. Thank you, activists. I stand with you.

    • Rachel,

      This is an act of criminal vandalism, plain and simple. They are not activists. They are idiots. Would you like Neo-Nazi’s to vandalize your house with Anti-Semetic epiphets in paint? Would that be beautiful?

  7. If you have the time paste this web address in your browser and read the 2014 POST article.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/10/08/columbus-day-how-is-this-still-a-thing/

    From such articles I think many feel Columbus was a racist. Does this justify what was done to the statue ABSOLUTELY NOT but it may shed some light on why. Just a small piece from the Post article:

    What many students don’t learn is what Columbus did as viceroy and governor of the Caribbean islands where he landed. As Oliver’s video explains:

    “What they tend not to learn are the parts of Columbus’ life where he kidnapped native Americans and sold them into slavery, had his men slash them to pieces and through disease and warfare killed roughly half the population of Haiti. But in fairness none of that rhymes with, “In fourteen hundred and ninety two.” [a reference to the start of the poem In 1492.]

  8. Why has this act of vandalism brought out the very negative aspects of Christopher Columbus? You all got off track.
    Why, then, do we celebrate Christopher Columbus Day , and with a long weekend?????

    • Anne, it is simple….the vandalism (which by the way is wrong and should never be deemed acceptable), brings focus to Columbus, who was, neither noble, or courageous. In fact he was far from the first to discover the “Americas”.
      If you do some research (and there is now quite a bit available) you can find that Columbus was nothing like what we all learned in school. And if we are at a moment in this country where we are looking back at what is right or wrong, and how we should accurately view history and celebrate it (or not) then Columbus would be a pretty good place to start. By any standard the acts he committed against “peaceful natives” (as he put it) were beyond brutal.

      If you can click on the link please take a moment to read it. You will NEVER think about Columbus the same way again. (I certainly have not).

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-kasum/columbus-day-a-bad-idea_b_742708.html

      • It was a hate crime. These crimes happen everyday all over the world. Let’s just look at this in a more simplistic way. But as always, these comments become competitive and original issue THE HATE CRIME, has taken a back seat. It truly has nothing to do with Christopher Columbus himself. Rather, whoever did this knew just how to ‘push’ the wrong button with Italians.

    • Of course I don’t know if it’s true but I have read that some people believe the only reason we celebrate Columbus Day is because he was Italian. The day is also a celebration of Italian heritage. Some believe that when FDR made Columbus Day official in 1934, he did not just because it was believed Columbus discovered the New World, but because Italian immigrants in America represented millions of votes.”

      /

  9. Well, you can read the Huffington Post on line or you go to the library and read the biography of Christopher Columbus by the distinguished Harvard historian Samuel Eliot Morison, “Admiral of the Ocean Sea.”
    He won the Pulitzer prize for history for this book in 1942. There is a statue of Professor Morison on the Commonwealth Avenue mall.
    Revisionist history is always suspect especially when people confuse using Google with scholarship.

  10. Columbus (Christoforo Columba ?) had nothing to do with enslavement of Africans !!!! Yet another example of the ignorance bred by the low level of instruction of (pseudo) history in the USA. This is what happens when kids are taught a political interpretation of history, rather than the facts !

  11. this country is a downward spiral . every symbol that stood for so many years seems to be offending people. The Confederate flag, Christopher Columbus statue, stepping on the American flag. We the people have lost our minds.

    • So…..we’ve morphed into : ‘we the people have lost our minds’. I’ll tell you what’s on a downward spiral, these competitive comments that have nothing to do with a hate crime being committed.

  12. “Black Lives Do Matter” but the people who take most of those lives are other blacks. So tell that little twerp who defaced our city (probably grew up in Wellesley) to go into a black neighnorhood and spray paint those words on one of the statues there. See what happens …

  13. I am not going to have a debate about Christopher Columbus on my post. For many of the same reasons that have been brought up by some on this post, we would have to rename our nation’s capital, many of our cities, and take down thousands of statues, memorials and landmarks of founders and historical figures who don’t meet the standards of societal norms today, but were leaders of their time.

    I find this act of vandalism offensive.

    There is a history behind that statue and the placement of that statue. Today, our neighborhood is a very affluent, vibrant and commercially successful area of the city. But that is not how our ancestors found it over a century ago. The Italian immigrants, many of them who came here with very little, found a cold, poor, rundown North End. They struggled for decades to build a new home for their; a community of their own; a way of life here in Boston.

    They faced a huge cultural change when they arrived, a language barrier, an inhospitable government, an antagonistic American/Irish run church, and a closed political process. We, and I say we in the larger sense, for my great-grandparents and grandfather were one of the many, who emigrated to Boston. We fought for all we have today. We transformed this neighborhood into what you see today. Hard work, love of family, and their new country led the Italian Americans to build this success. Many of these folks were poor laborers, fishermen, and tradesman, others started now famous restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, and other successful businesses from nothing. They worked hard to build a life for their children and grandchildren. Now many of us reap the rewards of their hard work.

    When the fishing industry left the old T Wharf in the North End, the area became a derelict and dangerous place for years. Ghost Town is what my mother and her generation later would call it. As our neighborhood became more a part of this city’s political and social structure, we fought for the redevelopment of this area in a way that that would benefit and honor those who toiled for so many years, With the support of the then Mayor Kevin White and the city, the redevelopment of the waterfront and the creation of Christopher Columbus Park was a culmination for many years of labor and hard work of the North End community.

    I was a young boy when this transformation happened, but I remember distant but vivid memories of going to the park with my grandmother to see the tall ships sail by during our nation’s bicentennial; or celebrating the blessing of the waters during the opening if the Fisherman’s Feast, viewing the fireworks display the city’s celebratory events. She loved that park, because both her father and husband were fisherman there, and she was proud to have a park that recognized the contribution they made and that all North Enders did. These feelings may seem no more than nostalgia for many people, but I believe I speak for many North Enders, when I say that the park and that statue mean more than just the marble it is made of.

    You may think that defacing that statue and more importantly the names of the people that are inscribed on that base is somehow an appropriate act of political discourse, however, I believe it is a cowardly act that defaces and dishonors the memories of those people etched in that stone and the thousands more of our nameless ancestors who built a livable and lovable home for their families, and for the whole city to enjoy.

    Jason

    • I do understand your sentiments. As I have previously said on my posts, the hate crime has nothing to do with Columbus. ‘Black Lives Matter’ has been sprayed all over the US. The statue is highly visible….a perfect spot to gain attention to their message. I’ll bet whoever did this, knows very little about Columbus, and they don’t care. The statue was a platform for their message. Let us not take this so personally.

      • Let’s not take it personally? Are you serious? Would you rather we just say, “Oh, no problem. You have to get your message out, I understand. It’s a black thing.”

        Curious, what DO you take personally?

      • Anne:

        Because its a visible statue, it’s ok to vandalize? That is absurd. As I stated in my comment above, it is personal to me and many of my neighbors. Just as the recent demonstrations about race in this country are personal to so many, so is this. Sorry you don’t appreciate our thoughts and concerns.

        J

        • Oh boy….how long is this going to continue. You are missing my point.
          When a person wants to get a point across, does he spray paint the sidewalk, a wall? NO, he’ll pick the most conspicuous spot ( a huge statue in plain site). I did not say it was okay to vandalize that statue ….I’m saying, for someone to do a hate crime such as this, they will choose a visible place. And, by the way, if you all detest Christopher, why, all of a sudden, are you so bummed out about his statue? Very many contradictory notes on these posts. I’m out.

  14. This act was probably carried out by the same group who staged a “protest” at Mayor Walsh’s home a couple of days ago at 4 AM . These people obviously don’t have a job to go to & if the people who desecrated the Columbus statute are caught I’m quite certain that mommy & daddy will pay their fines.

    • My colleagues and I are flumoxed by your comment …’I’m quite certain that mommy & daddy will pay their fines.’ Let’s see. It sounds as if fingers are pointing to white kids, by the remark above. Well, it could have been someone from any ethnic group. .We know and understand why the real North Enders resent the new young professionals and students who live here now. So, by your remark, you seem to be looking at them for the hate crime.

  15. Anne, I’m really feel bad that you and your colleagues are “flumoxed” by my comments [although I think it’s spelled flummoxed} Yes “mommy & daddy” turn these “freedom fighters” loose on society & support them & there are far too many spoiled,selfish children of well heeled parents who have zero respect for anything or anybody except the particular cause that their protesting this week.

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