Police investigate Columbus statue defacement in Central Park

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CENTRAL PARK, Manhattan — Police now search for whoever defaced a statue of Christopher Columbus in Central Park, in the latest in a recent series of local acts of vandalism against images of the explorer.

It's all happened in the wake of protests and counter-protests over the removal of Confederate Civil War statues in
Charlottesville and other communities nationwide.

In the latest case, police were notified around 8:45 a.m. Tuesday morning that somebody had painted red the hands of the Columbus statue in the park just off Center Drive, near 65th Street. The vandals had also spray-painted the phrase "Hate Will Not Be Tolerated" on the pedestal of the statue.

Also on the pedestal was a glued-on poster that read "Save Your Soul." Below that, on the base of the pedestal, somebody had spray painted the phrase "#somethingscoming." A check of the hash-tagged phrase only turned up negative reaction posts on social media.

Meanwhile, parkgoers, both locals and tourists, reacted strongly to the defacing, and the responses weren't positive. "It's absolutely disgusting," said a tourist from Perth, Australia , "because I hate vandalism."

Spokespeople for both Mayor Bill De Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the two city leaders criticized the vandalism, even though both have called for re-examining how Columbus is acknowledged publicly.

The historical record shows that the man considered to be the first European to reach North America enslaved the people he found here, supported their colonization and brought diseases that ended up killing many native Americans.

During the last week of August, vandals defaced a statue of Columbus in Astoria, Queens and beheaded a bust of the explorer on public display in Yonkers. No arrests have been reported in either incident.

As for the latest incident, in Central Park, reaction has been condemnatory.

"I think the people who did it are just going to be thrilled they're getting all this coverage," said Nathan Berman, a New Yorker.

"I think it's disgraceful," said Mark Hollander, who's staying in the city until his home in Miami is salvaged. "There's a certain amount of respect that everybody deserves and every object deserves," he said.

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