Christopher Columbus statue smattered in red paint in London’s Belgrave Square

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Watch: Christopher Columbus statue doused with red paint in London

A statue of Christopher Columbus in London’s Belgrave Square has been covered in red paint in an act of vandalism described as a “symbolic attack on Western civilisation”.

The statue of the Italian explorer and slaver, thought to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of indigenous people, was targeted on Tuesday, Columbus Day - the anniversary of the day the explorer arrived in America.

Four people were arrested on suspicion of committing vandalism.

Christopher Columbus has been called the “father of the slave trade”  (Getty Images)
Christopher Columbus has been called the “father of the slave trade” (Getty Images)

The statue, by sculptor Tomas Banuelos, which has stood in the square since 1992, has the so called “father of the slave trade” holding a map and looking to the Americas.

It now has a red cross scrawled over the inscription commemorating Columbus’ life between 1446 and 1506.

Robert Poll, founder of the Save Our Statues campaign, called the vandalism of the sculpture, a gift from the Spanish to mark the 500th anniversary of Columbus Day, “an attack on Western civilisation”.

Christopher Columbus Statue Vandalised In London (Getty Images)
Christopher Columbus Statue Vandalised In London (Getty Images)

He wrote: “London’s Columbus statue attacked with red paint. This is the first act of statue vandalism we’ve had in the UK for a while (not including the addition of plaques). Targeting Columbus is clearly a symbolic attack on European and Western civilisation.”

A petition, started this year to remove the Belgrave Square monument, stated the explorer was a “perpetrator” of various crimes including rape, enslavement and mass genocide. 

It was defaced as part of an international campaign to recognise Indigenous Day instead of the so-called founder of the New World.

It comes as Mexico City removed their own prominent Columbus to be replaced with a sculpture of an indigenous girl discovered in January 2021.

The statue is known as “The Young Woman of Amajac”, after the village where she was found buried in a field. 

The Young Woman of Amajac will replace Mexico City’s sculpture (AP)
The Young Woman of Amajac will replace Mexico City’s sculpture (AP)

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said at the time the statue was similar to depictions of a fertility goddess of the Huastec culture. But institute archeologists also said she may have been a member of the elite, or part of the governing class.

The replica will be as much as three times the size of the six-foot original, which is being displayed in Mexico City’s Museum of Anthropology. 

City authorities decided the Columbus statue should be moved to a less prominent site, and should be replaced by an Indigenous woman because they had been under-represented.

Watch: Fact or Fiction - Christopher Columbus discovered America?

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