Two statues of Christopher Columbus were vandalized Monday, doused with red paint, as Columbus Day comes under increased scrutiny from those who criticize the Italian navigator's legacy.
The Columbus statue in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, was defaced early Monday, NBC affiliate WJAR reported. The statue was draped in a sign that read “Stop Celebrating Genocide,” a reference to Columbus’ role in the colonization of North America, the killing of indigenous groups and the spread of slavery.
Across the country, in San Francisco, a statue of Columbus in the city’s Little Italy neighborhood was similarly vandalized. Below the statue someone wrote, "Destroy all monuments of genocide and kill all colonizers,” NBC Bay Area reported.
As people celebrated Italian Heritage Day in San Francisco, public works employees nearby were trying to scrape the blood-colored paint off Columbus’ face.
The dual defacements came as the movement to opt out of Columbus Day and instead commemorate Indigenous Peoples’ Day grows.
For many indigenous people, a federal holiday recognizing the actions of the man who is thought to be history's most prominent colonizer is insulting and dehumanizing.
States like New Mexico, Vermont and Maine are instead celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday. Over 100 cities, towns and college campuses have adopted the day in place of Columbus Day.
Police in both Providence and San Francisco are investigating the vandalism of the statues, and said they have no suspects at this time.