SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The words “murderer” and “genocider” were written in chalk on and around the Christopher Columbus monument in Downtown Syracuse late Friday night.
A spokesperson for Syracuse City Hall says Mayor Ben Walsh was notified of the vandalism around 10:30pm Friday and had DPW crews clean it up by Saturday morning.
Saturday, Bob Garbino, of the Columbus Monument Association, checked on the statue and found it cleaned up. He also found Syracuse Police detectives, who told him they’d be watching more often between then and the Columbus Day holiday on Monday.
The vandalism happened just hours after Mayor Walsh announced the statue would come down in the near future, citing its role in dividing the community.
Walsh says while he knows the decision will hurt the Italian American community, the statue’s symbol of oppression is too much to stay.
His decision was praised by the Onondaga Nation, whose chief says the statue is a symbol of the genocide and slavery he claims was started by Columbus.
In a statement Saturday, Walsh said, “Vandalism to the monument is wrong and will not be tolerated. This is a time for compassion and understanding for those who are hurting. I ask all of our community to proceed with dignity and respect.”