San Francisco

Columbus Statue in SF's Little Italy Defaced by Vandals

As thousands of people enjoyed Italian Heritage Day celebrations in San Francisco's Little Italy, public works crews were scraping red paint off the city's statue of Christopher Columbus just a few blocks away.

The inscription painted at the base of the statue, near Coit Tower, was especially disturbing: "Destroy all monuments of genocide and kill all colonizers."

Visitors to the area, some of whom were there to watch the Blue Angels air show, were a little shocked to see the bronze statue vandalized.

"I think it's horrible," said Jodi Silverman of Boston. "I think that people, yes they have freedom of speech, but they shouldn't deface property."

Crews spent most of the day power washing and scraping the statue. One of the first things they removed was the message scrawled on the base.

People were puzzled but not quite shocked.

"There are people in the city that are probably upset about it. It's gonna be hard to get it off there," Santa Rosa resident Travis Troxell said. "But honestly, they don't teach you in school, but Christopher Columbus did a bunch of stuff that wasn't the greatest."

It's likely no coincidence the statue was defaced on Columbus Day weekend. What is now called Italian Heritage Day was being celebrated just a few blocks away.

Organizers of the event issued a statement that said in part: "We are proud of more than 150 years of Italian-American history in the Bay Area and choose to focus on bringing people together."

The San Francisco Police Department is investigating the incident, including scouring security video footage from cameras in the area.

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