National News

Local Christopher Columbus statue vandalized in Tower Grove Park

Posted October 13, 2017 12:47 p.m. EDT

— Overnight on Thursday vandals hit the Christopher Columbus statue in Tower Grove Park, splashing red paint on it and writing phrases in spray paint along the base it.

Early Thursday morning, crews power washed the statue as clean as they could, but there are still faint remains of the vandalism left behind.

The crime was timely since Thursday morning was the annual day St. Louis Italian-Americans meet at the statue of the 15th-century Italian explorer to honor their heritage. This year they came out to a disturbing sight for them. Phrases like 'Murder' and 'Black Lives Matter' were written across the statue.

"How can you hold 21st-century morals on somebody who lived 500 years ago? It's not possible," said Angelo Sita, an Italian-American who came out to the statue celebrate his nationality on Thursday, "We Italians are just tired of it."

Another group was gathered around the vandalized statue Thursday morning as well.

"We're Native Americans," said Tonya Blackowl.

She and a few others marched around the Christopher Columbus statues with signs asking to the end the celebration of Columbus Day.

"It's not that we don't honor the Italian heritage or Italian-Americans, it's just that we need to re-educate on the history and what is important," said Blackowl.

Blackowl and the Native Americans who marched near the statue may not like Columbus' violent history, but say they had nothing to do with the vandalism.

"There's no reason to be rude, disgraceful or even just....horrible," said Blackowl, "There's no reason for it."

Elizabeth McNulty, director of development and communication with Tower Grove Park, says this vandalism is going to cost taxpayers "thousands of dollars." She hopes this incident can start a conversation about moving forward together.

"We're reaching out to the Native-American community, we're reaching out to the Italian-American community. We want to be a facilitator of that so that everyone feels welcome," said McNulty.

McNulty says the park has filed a police report.

This is not the first time the statue has been vandalized. The monument was also covered in red paint this same time in 2016.

The statue is more than 130 years old.