RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Police in Richmond are trying to identify vandals who defaced the Christopher Columbus statue in Byrd Park over the holiday weekend. Detectives are following leads as Richmonders question the role some monuments have in the city.
On Thanksgiving Day, officers arrived and found red paint covering the front of the statue and on its base.
“It looked like it was thrown on there,” RPD spokesman James Mercante said. The crime is believed to have occurred between 10:30 and 11:40 a.m. November 24.
Whether intended to symbolize blood or simply make a mess, police said detectives are taking the vandalism very seriously, adding that any damage valued at $1,000 or more can result in a felony charge.
The damage came less than three weeks after vandals defaced multiple monuments with spray paint. Following the presidential election, hundreds of protesters shut down several streets in Richmond, where several Civil War and Confederate monuments were defaced with graffiti.
The words “Your Vote Was a Hate Crime” were spray-painted on the Jefferson Davis monument and the Matthew Fontaine Maury statue, while the words “F— Trump, F— KKK” were found on the Robert E. Lee monument.
“There have been some incidents of vandalism in the past month,” Mercante said. “Detectives are working all those cases.”
The graffiti reignited discussions on how monuments should be presented. Richmond resident Nova Sankofa started a petition in early 2016 to remove Confederate figures from Monument Avenue, but says destruction is the wrong way to confront what some statues symbolize.
“Tagging this stuff up, someone has to come out and clean it; police have to come out, it’s wasting our money,” Sankofa said, telling 8News he believes petitioning to elected officials is far more effective than vandalism.
“Someone’s making a mess but we’re paying for it,” he added.
Meanwhile, police are on the lookout for anyone who may have seen the vandals defacing the statue.
“Anyone who was in that area of Byrd Park and saw anything suspicious, call in and give detectives that information,” Mercante said.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 780-1000 or at http://www.7801000.com.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.