Columbus Monument Vandalized Again

Published by Chris Wangler - June 4, 2020.

A monument on Waltham Common has been vandalized with red spray paint again, but this time with graffiti reading “BLM,” short for Black Lives Matter.

On Thursday morning, two city workers used Goo Gone and stiff brushes to promptly remove the tag from the Christopher Columbus monument in the southwest corner of the common.

Waltham Police Det. Sgt. Tim King said, “The department is aware of the vandalism and is actively investigating.”

Since 2017, the monument has been vandalized three other times, although previous incidents all happened around the Columbus Day holiday and related to Christopher Columbus’ impact on the Americas.

During demonstrations across the country following the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis, some historic monuments and statues considered racist have been vandalized or brought down.

Reaction to the Waltham vandalism from people around the common was mixed.

“There’s no need for that,” said Mike Sutherland, a local homeless man. “It’s a disgrace. It’s vandalism.”

But Lisa Aideuis, who was waiting for an MBTA bus, was not upset. “Christopher Columbus shouldn’t be celebrated at all,” she said. “He was a rapist and a murderer. His whole legacy is based on lies.”

“It’s a complicated issue,” said young father Bill Cordts, who surmised that the monument was targeted given the small scale of demonstrations in Waltham. “It seems like a single symbolic gesture.”

“I understand the feeling behind it,” said a South Boston man who identified himself as Alonzo. “It’s a person expressing their anger in the wrong way.”

Back in 1992, the city approved a request from prominent Waltham Italians to erect the monument to correspond with the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Americas.

The stone monument includes engraved images of the Italian explorer and his ships, as well as text about his life.

It’s not the first time it was vandalized.

In October 2018, red paint was splattered over it and a sign was affixed to it reading “RAPE MURDER SLAVERY.” Roughly a year before, a vandal spray painted the word “Genocide” on the monument.

No suspects have ever been charged.

Waltham Police declined to say whether cameras have been installed to monitor the monument, but are asking the public for help in identifying those responsible for the latest incident.