Oldest Columbus Memorial Vandalized In Protest Against White Supremacy

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Baltimore Protest Calls for Future Of Racial And Economic Justice

Baltimore, MD –  In the dark of night on August 21, 2017, protesters attacked a memorial commemorating Christopher Columbus. The memorial is the oldest monument to Columbus in North America and is one of three in Baltimore.

The video shows an individual who identifies himself as “Ty” explaining why he is destroying the plaque commemorating Columbus. He says:

“Christopher Columbus symbolizes the initial invasion of European capitalism into the Western Hemisphere. Columbus initiated a centuries-old wave of terrorism, murder, genocide, rape, slavery, ecological degradation and capitalist exploitation of labor in the Americas. That Columbian wave of destruction continues on the backs of Indigenous, African-American and brown people.

“Racist monuments to slave owners and murderers have always bothered me. Baltimore’s poverty is concentrated in African-American households, and these statues are just an extra slap in the face. They were built in the 20th century in response to a movement for African Americans’ human dignity. What kind of a culture goes to such lengths to build such hate-filled monuments? What kind of a culture clings to those monuments in 2017?”

The protest deepens the actions against the culture that glorifies white supremacy and the racism that allowed for the ethnic cleansing of Indigenous Peoples as well as the African slave trade, which treated people as property.

The protest is consistent with a growing campaign led by Indigenous Peoples that has been calling for replacing Columbus Day, which only became a national holiday in 1971, with Indigenous Peoples Day; states and cities have ended Columbus Day. The Indigenous justice group, Idle No More, describes celebrating Columbus Day as equivalent to celebrating Adolph Hitler Day. Columbus spread terror among the Indigenous, cutting off hands if they did not bring him gold, having dogs chase them and rip open limbs and bellies, and hunting fleeing Indians into the bush to skewer them on sword and pike. In addition to beginning the genocidal slaughter of millions of Indigenous people, Columbus originated the trans-Atlantic slave trade and was the father of the African slave trade to the Americas.

Ty also mentions George Washington in the video. Washington was a large slave owner, possessing 317 people and had been a slave owner for fifty-six years, beginning at eleven years of age. Washington also ordered the slaughter of Indigenous Peoples.  In 1779, George Washington ordered General John Sullivan to “lay waste . . . that the country . . . be . . . destroyed, instilling terror among the Iroquois Indians in central New York.” General Sullivan affirmed that “the Indians shall see that there is malice enough in our hearts to destroy everything that contributes to their support.” Washington’s orders led to one of the most vicious scorched-earth campaigns in history. All orchards and food crops were destroyed, all buildings were looted, then burned. Many of the escaping Senecas were scalped and butchered. The culminating day of “victory” included total destruction of Kanadesaga and the forty other Seneca towns, accomplished by 4,500 troops, nearly one-third of the entire force of the Continental Army.

The deep culture of racism, colonization, white supremacy is seen in the monuments and memorials glorifying the purveyors of violence. Ty expresses the expectation that people will show their support for Columbus and Washington, which is just further evidence of the widespread acceptance of racist behavior even when it includes genocide and mass slavery.

The protest included two signs that said “Racism: Tear it Down” and “The Future is Racial and Economic Justice.”  The video ends with resources that will help to educate about building economic and racial justice. The list includes websites and books, a list that recognizes that removing monuments that glorify white supremacy is one step toward creating a political culture that will create new structures that ensure racial and economic justice.

RESOURCES:

WEBSITES:

ICA.coop (The International Cooperative Alliance)

TheWorkingWorld.org

DemocracyCollaborative.org

ItsOurEconomy.us

DemocracyAtWork.info

TimeBanks.org

CooperationJackson.org

UjimaBoston.com

BaltimoreRoundtable.org

SUGGESTED READING:

Collective Courage: A History of African American Thought and Practice, Jessica Nembhard

Rethinking Money, Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne

No More Throw Away People, Edgar Cahn

America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy, Gar Alperovitz

Local Dollars Local Sense, Michael Shuman

Looking Forward, Michael Albert & Robin Hahnel

Moving Forward, Michael Albert

Black, White, and Green, Alison Alkon

Solidarity Economy, Jenna Allard, Carl Davidson, Julie Matthael

Co-operatives in a Post-Growth Era, Sonja Novkovic, Tom Web

Cooperatives Confront Capitalism, Peter Ranis

A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn

Indigenous People’s History of the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

  • tibetan cowboy

    Good news. The European invaders eventually massacred violently 1 million native americans and killed by dehydration, imprisonment, starvation, diseases and exposure the other 14 million. None of the European diseases existed in North America until the invaders imported this yet another evil weapon.

  • wright gregson

    Be careful about blaming only Europeans for ecological degradation and rape and pillage.
    These are all delightful characteristics of ALL of human-kind.
    Consider all of the megafauna on all the continents that were, at least in part, exterminated by we, the people. Consider that the downfall of the Maya civilization was in part brought on by over population and environmental degradation.
    Broaden your outlook before going on a Cultural Revolution without restraint.
    Man’s inhumanity to man knows no racial boundaries.

  • mwildfire

    There were even some Indians that practiced slavery, in the northwest. And lots of warfare between tribes. But compared to what the dominant culture brought, these were innocent children–which is exactly what Columbus said–I’ve read that he never imagined he had actually found India, that the word “Indians” came from his calling them El Pueblo In Dios” the People in God because despite never having heard of Jesus, they lived more like Christians that the Christians did–they were generous and giving with Columbus’ weary hungry soldiers. So, he wrote to the Queen who’d sponsored him, we could capture them all with fifty men! It’s not a matter of race. In recent centuries it’s been primarily whites conquering and enslaving and exploiting, but that’s just an accident of history, nothing to do with genes. The problem is cultural infection. The problem is that no one had ever figured out a good, enduring way to deal with the aggressive peoples among us, so they keep taking more and more territory. It’s the successful, civilized (that is, living in cities) people who get into the aggressive, exploitive way of life…including the Maya.

  • mwildfire

    But for the most part they did it entirely unknowingly. It’s all the rest that can be laid at their door as crimes.

  • mano7xt

    It’s a new day for a new way. Old ideas die hard but die they must. Less then 15 years ago the Catholic church finally apologized to Galelio for thteaten to burn him alive and putting him under house arrest for the rest of his life. His crime? Supporting Copurnicus’ belife that the earth goes around the sun. Such was the political terror exercised by religious lying dictators who would have women believe they came from a rib of a man. And no BBQ sauce included!