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Christopher Columbus statue vandalized in NY as monument debate heats up

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Red paint was splattered on a Christopher Columbus statue in Buffalo this week, and an online petition is seeking its removal as the debate over controversial monuments around the country heats up.

The Christopher Columbus Statue at Columbus Park in Buffalo was defaced in August 2017. (Buffalo Police Department)

The vandalism occurred at Columbus Park “sometime overnight,” the Buffalo Police Department posted on Facebook Friday.

The incident, leaving Columbus apparently bloodied, happened less than a week after a Columbus statue in Baltimore was damaged, and as the debate whether or not to remove a similar statue at NYC’s Columbus Circle gained the attention of officials on all sides.

This is not the first time the Buffalo statue has been defaced, The Buffalo News reports. In September 2015, it was vandalized with a red, spray-painted message with the words “rape” and “genocide.”

An online petition to remove the statue and change the park’s name has also gathered more than 1,300 signatures.

Efforts to remove Confederate monuments have gained tremendous speed since a deadly confrontation over the removal of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia some two weeks ago.

Those against the controversial monuments have also widened their focus.

In Baltimore, a sledgehammer was taken to a Columbus statue last week.

Locally, city officials on both sides of the debate have spoken out about the Columbus statue at Columbus Circle.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito first told the public the statue should be considered for removal.

“Obviously this is an issue that would have a lot of emotion,” Mark-Viverito said. “We need academics and researchers to be serious and deliberative about criteria, and give us guidance as a city about which monuments are a symbol of oppression and hate in this city.  Having this conversation is long overdue.”

Other politicians rallied on Thursday in favor of keeping the statue.

“Leave our statues alone! Stop the political correctness!” media personality and Italian-American Joe Piscopo said.

Anyone with information about the Buffalo incident, or anyone who may be responsible, is asked to call or text the confidential tip line at 716 847-2255.