Columbus statue in Schenley Park defaced
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Guy Costa knew that Columbus Day might bring more graffiti on the Schenley Park statue of Christopher Columbus, even driving by Monday to make sure the statue hadn't been defaced.
But while Columbus Day on Monday passed uneventfully, the rest of the week did not. Wednesday morning, Mr. Costa, chairman of the Pittsburgh Columbus Day Parade Committee, learned that the statue had been vandalized yet again.
"Butcher!" was scrawled in black paint and underlined at the bottom of the statue, with an anarchy symbol above it.
This is at least the third time this year that the statue has been vandalized, said Mr. Costa, whose group is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
"This is a repeated crime," he said. "We find this to be very offensive to Italian-Americans. For this to overshadow our proud heritage is very disturbing."
By mid-afternoon, the statue had been cleaned, said public works director Rob Kaczorowski. On prior occasions, the city has had to hire a contractor to clean the statue at a cost of about $3,900.
Because it was cleaned this time by an in-house crew, the costs were minimal.
In April, Columbus's hands were painted red and " 'Death of civilization' was written in orange paint on the statue." The statue was also vandalized in June, and has been defaced in years past by those ostensibly protesting Columbus's role in the death and slavery of indigenous peoples.
"It's probably the most popular piece of art that gets defaced for some reason," said Mr. Kaczorowski. "Normally it gets hit once a year -- it's a little bit extraordinary this year."
A Columbus statue in Providence, R.I., also was defaced this week and a Columbus statue was once vandalized inside the White House.
The Pittsburgh statue was built in 1958 with funding from Italian-American groups celebrating Columbus's birthplace and early home in Genoa, Italy. The statue was restored in 1991 in preparation for the 500th anniversary of Columbus's 1492 landing in the present-day Bahamas, Mr. Costa said.
As part of the restoration, the statue was coated with a substance that would protect it somewhat against graffiti, said Mr. Costa, though he was unsure how long the protection remains effective.
He's hoping that the reward will solve the graffiti problem, and that coatings and other protection for the statue will not be necessary.
"They're not going to change history and we're not going to change history," he said. "Columbus to the Italian-American community symbolizes a great feat by coming here and discovering this area. We're proud of what he's done, our culture and heritage."
First Published October 14, 2010 12:00 am