Christopher Columbus statue beheaded in Boston, one in Richmond thrown in lake

The statue in Virginia was then spray-painted, set on fire and tossed into a lake.
Image: Decapitated statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston
A decapitated statue of Christopher Columbus in the North End of Boston on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. The head was recovered by the Boston Police Department.Joseph Prezioso / AFP - Getty Images

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

Two Christopher Columbus statues in different cities were vandalized overnight as calls mount for the contentious monuments to be taken down.

In Richmond, Virginia, the statue in downtown's Byrd Park was torn down following a peaceful demonstration in support of indigenous people Tuesday night, NBC affiliate WWBT reported.

The statue was then spray-painted, set on fire and tossed into a lake. WWBT reported that one of their photographers was also attacked as protesters demand he leave the scene.

As Confederate monuments around the country have come down in recent weeks, many memorials to Columbus remain even though many consider him to have been racist. Columbus has been celebrated for centuries in the U.S. despite his history of colonization, enslavement and violence toward Native Americans.

In Boston, the head of a Christopher Columbus statue in the city's North End was lopped off at some point before 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, when police received a call, NBC Boston reported. The police later recovered the head.

Protesters gather in front of a statue of Christopher Columbus in Richmond, Va.

That head was also removed in 2006, and in 2015 the statue was splattered in red paint and spray-painted with the words "Black Lives Matter."

Neither the Richmond Police Department nor the Boston Police Department immediately responded to requests for comment.