WATERBURY, CT –It’s an embattled statue that’s caught the eye of angry protestors… and patriotic Italian Americans. Now it’s been beheaded… and it’s looking like a war is brewing.
WTNH News 8 reported on Independence Day that the Christopher Columbus Statue at Waterbury City Hall was vandalized. The statue’s head was smashed and removed, decapitated.
The Chairman of the Waterbury’s UNICO chapter in 1982, Dr. Robert Porzio remembered that it took two years to raise money for the statue. It was finally placed and dedicated in 1984.
Dr. Porzio told News 8:
“What we celebrate is his ability to come back and forth four different times over 500 years ago and be within 50 miles of the same spot.”
UNICO is an Italian-American service organization said it would offer a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the ones responsible for vandalizing the statue. UNICO commented:
“We are saddened by this action of violence as it does not represent the message of thanksgiving the statue embodies to the Italian-American community.”
There were mixed emotions about the statue at the park.
There was some arguing and yelling among the dozens of people who gathered at city hall to see the damage. One resident, who is running for U.S. Congress, David X. Sullivan, was concerned by the vandalism. He said:
“This was a gift to the City of Waterbury from the Italian-Americans, and it’s unfortunate that it’s been desecrated in this manner.”
A resident from Torrington, Chelsea Fann said:
“I just feel like it shouldn’t be here, I feel like it’s disrespectful to the Black community.”
Another resident from Waterbury, Rob Williams said:
“It’s unfortunate it had to go this way. I think action did need to happen, but it didn’t need to happen like this.”
18-year-old Nicholas Salerno, of Watertown told the Hartford Courant:
“It’s just sad what they’re doing to the statue. Two wrongs don’t make a right. There’s wrong in everybody and it’s just a disgrace to the Italians now.”
Waterbury Mayor Neil M. O’Leary was one of the people in the crowd on Saturday. O’Leary said:
“I am deeply disappointed and disturbed by the destruction inflicted upon the Christopher Columbus statue today. The City of Waterbury, and I as mayor, are deeply committed to taking action to address the impact and inequities caused by systemic racism. However, this type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
On Thursday, a protest was held at the statue by Black Lives Matter protestors. A little over 70 protestors dressed in BLM t-shirts and masks demanded for the statue to be removed.
A local motorcycle club comprised of 20 counter-protestors quarreled with the BLM, using the crackling roar of their motorcycle engines. The BLM protestors chanted:
“Take it down, Black Lives Matter, No justice, No peace.”
The rally was considered a peaceful one.
Law Enforcement Today spoke exclusively with a motorcycle club member who said they’re looking for the people responsible.
“We’re proud supporters of law enforcement,” he told us. “But sometimes there are people who can do things to remedy situations that law enforcement can’t do. So we’re just looking for some names.”
There are no leads at this time as to who committed the vandalism of the Christopher Columbus statue. Waterbury police asked that if anyone with information call Waterbury detectives or crime stoppers.
Waterbury, Connecticut isn’t the only place activists are demanding a Christopher Columbus statue be removed. The activists such as BLM claim the Italian explorer’s legacy includes slavery and suppression of indigenous people.
The demands for the removal of the statue have been increased due to the racial justice protests sparked by the killings of Black people in Minneapolis, Louisville, Kentucky, and other parts of the country.
New London, New Haven, and Hartford have removed their statues. The Columbus statue at a small park near the Supreme Court and Capitol in Hartford was removed by city crews early Monday morning.
Protester attacks senior citizen trying to protect statue, then begs police for protection when crowd fights back. ‘Now, you want the cops!?’
NEW HAVEN, CT – It’s sort of ironic how this story turned out.
A protester attacked a senior citizen in Wooster Square Park in New Haven, Connecticut last week (scroll for video).
The senior citizen was attending the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue from the park when a Latino protester attacked him with a loudspeaker. Both men were protesting but for different reasons.
NBC-CT reported that the city of New Haven decided to take down the Columbus statue because of all the protests for racial justice across the nation.
In the heart of New Haven’s Wooster Square, the traditionally Italian-American neighborhood, workers prepare to take down the Christopher Columbus statue. pic.twitter.com/8jKb0S34W1
— Carmen Baskauf (@cbaskauf) June 24, 2020
“The statue will remain in the city’s custody and will be moved to the Knights of Columbus Museum. The city said the statue holds deep ties to the Italian-American community, as it was first erected in 1892, and later recast in bronze in 1955.”
The senior citizen was a white male and a member of the Italian-Heritage Foundation. The group was protesting the removal of the Columbus statue.
For the Italian-Heritage Foundation and other Italians, the Christopher Columbus statue represents “a point of pride for Italians, who were discriminated against when they first immigrated to America before achieving success.”
Signs protesters have made this morning. The majority of the people here are against the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in #NewHaven. They say Columbus plays an important role in Italian American history. Others accuse the explorer of being a racist and a slave trader pic.twitter.com/gbSxbVnuEn
— Lissette Nuñez (@LissetteNunezTV) June 24, 2020
The moment the man attacked the senior citizen was caught on camera.
In the footage, you can see the Latino man hit and older white man with a loudspeaker and then wrestle him to the ground. The assailant is wearing a T-shirt with the words “White Lives Matter Too Much.”
The angry crowd then responds to defend the senior citizen, and ironically a police officer had to protect the Latino assailant.
One man in the crowd yells at the attacker as he cowers behind the police officer:
“Now you want the cops! NOW you want them, huh?”
You can then see in the footage the Latino male wrapping his arms around the white police officer while begging the officer to protect him.
Business and Politics reported New Haven resident Louis Pane told NBC Connecticut:
“We just want everybody else to respect our ethnic group as well. It’s about coming together as one in the future to all live-in harmony and all have equality.”
Randall Beach: With the Columbus statue gone, let the healing begin https://t.co/UpBDGlMpJy
— New Haven Register (@nhregister) June 25, 2020
NBC-CT reported that Louis Pane has filed an injunction against the city opposing the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue. He believes they have no right to take the statue away. NBC-CT also quotes him as saying:
“Growing up in New Haven, we grew up with all ethnic groups and we all had harmony because we all respected each other, and every ethnic group today is struggling here in the United States as we all know.
“But it’s not about erasing history, but it’s about coming together as on in the future to all live-in harmony and equality. We just want everyone else to respect our ethnic group as well.”
The video of the incident is below:
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker was reported as being disappointed by the events that occurred at the removal of the Columbus statue. Mayor Elicker made a lengthy statement, as reported by NBC-CT:
“The decision to remove the statue of Columbus today was one that was spearheaded by a group of leaders in the Italian community. While this decision for those leaders was not easy, they courageously did the right thing.
“I support this decision. I want to take a moment to thank those leaders for their support in recognizing the history of colonialism and its negative effects on many cultures, and their help to identify a place where the statue can reside. I know that there are some people who strongly disagree with the decision to remove the statute.
“People have the right to protest and express their opinions peacefully. We will work collaboratively to ensure we honor New Haven’s Italian Heritage and immigrant history. I look forward to the many community conversations surrounding what we would like to see replace the statue of Christopher Columbus, and how we can highlight other cultural icons for the many Italian-Americans that have made New Haven their home.
“It is disappointing that some at the protest incited fighting. New Haven has a long history of lively dialogue, but violence has no place in our city. We face a very challenging moment in history. We must work as a community to listen, understand, and have respectful dialogue with each other. This moment, while challenging, is also an opportunity to bring people together.”
The incident had some comedic irony to it, as reported by Business & Politics because the fact that the assailant sought protection from the local police “underscores the stupidity of the left’s ‘Defund the Police’ movement.”
Columbus statues have been a source of violence and contention for many in recent weeks. Law Enforcement Today has been reporting on instances of violence and vandalism surrounding that.
A middle school social studies teacher based out of Rhode Island served up a recent lesson to be heeded that wasn’t in the realm of history or geography.
Rather, the lesson was in cause and effect after getting arrested for the vandalism of a statue of Christopher Columbus in Providence.
Derrick Garforth is listed as a social studies teacher with the Pawtucket School Department.
“I have just learned about this and the Pawtucket School Department is investigating it,” said Superintendent Cheryl McWilliams in an email.
— Anita Baffoni (@AnitaBaffoni) June 13, 2020
It’s not hard to see the irony of a social studies teacher getting arrested for allegedly vandalizing a statue of a historical figure to the United States.
Jenks Middle School teacher Derrick Garforth was charged with felony desecration of a grave or monument on June 13th.
Police allegedly caught Garfoth red-handed, or rather purple handed in a literal sense, defacing the monument located in Providence, Rhode Island.
The teacher was allegedly in cahoots with two other suspects while splashing purple and white paint toward the statue of Columbus.
The teacher, aside from being arrested, was also placed on leave, according to Pawtucket Superintendent Cheryl McWilliams:
“I have just learned about this, and the Pawtucket School Department is investigating it.”
Police witnessed the alleged act of vandalism, and chased a car where two suspects hopped in after throwing the paint at the statue. Garforth and Charlotte Whittingham were said to be passengers inside the vehicle that was later stopped, with Mackenzie Innis being cited as the driver.
Inside the vehicle stopped, police recovered purple and white paint that was said to be consistent with the paint thrown at the statue. There’s currently no word yet on scheduled court appearances for the accused at this time.
Christopher Columbus statues have been getting targeted quite frequently lately.
A group of vandals decided to take it upon themselves to forcibly remove a statue of Christopher Columbus in Richmond on June 9th, thereafter defacing it and tossing it into a lake. This is a prime example of affording an inch, and the mob taking a mile.
BREAKING: A statue of Christopher Columbus in Byrd Park has been removed by protesters and dragged into the lake. This is a developing story. pic.twitter.com/yFjiUdPTMk
— WTVR CBS 6 Richmond (@CBS6) June 10, 2020
Many are well aware of the numerous statues of historical figures from the Confederate-era that wound up being removed in 2017, typically by way of locality votes and legislation. But what took place on the evening of June 9th was different, for many reasons.
The Christopher Columbus statue, which was held at the William Byrd Park, was torn down via ropes by a group of vandals at approximately 9:00 p.m. that evening. After having already been spray painted and torn down, the group then proceeded to discard the statue within Fountain Lake.
BREAKING NEWS: The Christopher Columbus statue has been torn down and thrown in the lake by protesters in downtown Richmond. https://t.co/QrPl53pgF6
— NBC12 WWBT Richmond (@NBC12) June 10, 2020
The first issue with the statue removal was that is was not legally sanctioned – at all. The statue is owned by the city itself, yet an unruly mob decided that chanting “tear it down” and thus proceeding to do such is perfectly fine because the statue is offensive to some.
The second most concerning issue in this illegal act, is that mainstream media outlets are calling the vandals “protesters.”
They’re not protesters if they’re committing crimes. They’re criminals.
Here’s a quote from The Hill describing the criminal act:
“Statues of Christopher Columbus were targeted by protesters.”
Here’s one by ABC affiliate 6 Action News:
“A statue of Christopher Columbus in Richmond was torn down by protesters, set on fire and then thrown into a lake.”
And yet another ABC affiliate, 13 WBKO, citing the vandals as “protesters”:
“The Christopher Columbus statue was torn down by protesters in downtown Richmond.”
Whether people like the statue or not, it is still a criminal act for someone or a group of people to tear it down and discard it into a lake. The ones responsible for said act were not protesters during those moments to destroy what wasn’t theirs – they were miscreants.
Of course, there are those that would justify the act of destruction by the virtue of saying that “Christopher Columbus was an evil person.” While that may be true, he was also a figure from the 15th century. The entire world in general wasn’t exactly full of the nicest people during that period.
The 15th century saw the likes of the Jingnan rebellion in China, the Russo-Kazan Wars between Muscovite Russia and the Khanate from Kazan, there were the numerous wars between Morocco and Portugal that started during the 15th century; acts related to territorial claiming, war, and conquest were not a European exclusive during the century.
Needless to say, it has been a long time since Columbus “sailed the ocean blue” in 1492 and the world has moved on collectively from exploits that were a then-worldwide normal occurrence.
Virginia wasn’t the only location to have a Christopher Columbus statue vandalized. One statue of the 15th century figure was beheaded in Boston, Massachusetts as well.
Christopher Columbus statues beheaded in Boston, and thrown in a lake in Richmond. https://t.co/X0gABf8OTK
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 10, 2020
As with the Virginia statue vandalized and discarded, the sentiment from the vandals was the same regarding the Boston statue, with it being some kind of symbol of racism.
Furthermore, one Twitter account even posted a picture of the now decapitated statue online, stating the following one day before the vandalism:
“It would be a shame if the statue of Columbus fell into Boston Harbor… a real shame…”
It would be a shame if the statue of Columbus fell into Boston Harbor… a real shame… pic.twitter.com/0v38nHCssb
— roly-poly little rat-faced girl (@unhingedwomen) June 8, 2020
Sadly, social media giants are allowing the likes of rallying coordinated acts of destruction to take place on their platforms.
Neither the Richmond Police Department nor the Boston Police have made any mention of the perpetrated crimes of vandalism.
Then again, why would they? If either department were to dare mention seeking out the criminals responsible for the destruction, they’d likely be maligned in the media even more than they already are.
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