It’s no surprise that President Donald Trump ignores the negative impact of European colonization on indigenous people. After all, he dismissed the violence used by white supremacists during their rally in Charlottesville to defend a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which represents a system of white domination.
Trump’s proclamation calls on the nation to celebrate Europe’s discovery of the Americas but excludes a recognition of how it affected indigenous people who had been living there for centuries.
President Obama, by contrast, recognized Columbus’ voyages while also noting “the pain and suffering reflected in the stories of Native Americans who had long resided on this land prior to the arrival of European newcomers.”
The Charleston church shooting and violence in Charlottesville added fuel to the movement to remove symbols of hate, including the Confederate flag and monuments honoring Confederate leaders. This wave includes calls for the removal of statues that honor Columbus.
The landmark statue of the explorer in New York City’s Columbus Circle is getting “round-the-clock” police protection, the Washington Post reports.
Vandals twice in September defaced Columbus statues in the city. According to the New York Post, Daniel Kimery, a 38-year-old homeless man from Arizona, was arrested for painting the Columbus Circle statue with pink nail polish, telling police that the color represented “the blood on the Italian explorer’s hands.”
In a separate incident, a seven-foot-tall Columbus statue in Central Park was spray-painted with the words “Hate will not be tolerated” and red paint on the hands.
At the government level, several cities removed Columbus Day from official calendars. Most recently, the Los Angeles City Council voted in August to replace Columbus Day with a celebration of “indigenous, aboriginal and native people.”