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Statue honoring Christopher Columbus rolled off its pedestal in Denver’s Civic Center

Toppling of art work placed in 1970 to honor Colorado for being first state to observe Columbus Day as a holiday came as similar memorials have come down or been defaced in other states.

A mural that is part of the Black Love Mural Fest sits near a statue honoring Christopher Columbus that was pulled down overnight on June 26, 2020 in Denver's Civic Center Park. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)
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Protesters tore down a statue honoring Christopher Columbus in Civic Center park late Thursday night. 

Video posted to Twitter by the AfroLiberationFront showed a group of individuals pulling on ropes tied to the statue. The statue was pulled down around 11:15 p.m., Denver police department spokesman Doug Schepman said.

The incident follows the toppling of a Civil War statue outside of the Capitol Wednesday night. Gov. Jared Polis vowed to repair that statue, which memorialized Union soldiers, but was also criticized for whitewashing the history of the Sand Creek massacre. 

Protesters and community members had been publicly talking about the Columbus statue in the preceding days.

Denver school board member Tay Anderson tweeted at Mayor Michael Hancock Saturday, asking him when the statue would be taken down.

“I strongly advise taking it down this week,” Anderson said in his tweet.

Despite the attention on the statue, and the toppling of the Civil War monument the night before, Denver police did not have added security around the statue last night, Schepman said.

Denver investigators, he said, are “working with other city agencies to identify sites and/or statues that may be targeted, and will conduct extra patrols.”

In an update sent Friday afternoon, police said they responded to the vandalism incident after monitoring the situation on the HALO camera network. By the time they arrived at the park, the crowd was dispersing.

The removal of the two Denver statues comes among similar actions across the country as protests about racial justice continue in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis.

A statue honoring Christopher Columbus in Denver’s Civic Center Park was pulled down overnight on June 26, 2020. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

Columbus statues across the country in recent weeks have been targeted. Providence, Rhode Island, removed a Columbus statue Thursday.  Vandals splattered a Columbus statue in San Antonio, Texas, with red paint, and in Philadelphia plans are being made to remove a Columbus statue.

The statue in Denver does not portray Christopher Columbus, but was donated to the city in 1970 to honor Colorado for being the first state to recognize Columbus Day as a holiday. On March 20, Gov. Jared Polis signed into law a bill replacing Columbus Day with Frances Xavier Cabrini Day.

This is a breaking news story that will be updated.

The plaque on the plinth of a statue honoring Christopher Columbus in Denver’s Civic Center Park, which was pulled down overnight on June 26, 2020. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

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