Oldest Columbus Memorial Vandalized In Protest Against White Supremacy
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.
ICA.coop (The International Cooperative Alliance)
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