Columbus didn’t technically discover America, but his likeness in downtown Detroit was discovered with a hatchet to the head with fake blood — just in time for Columbus Day.

It’s not clear at this point who or when exactly the statue at Jefferson and Randolph was vandalized.

The 1910 statue was erected at the time to honor Detroit’s Italians, and was sculpted by Augusto Rivalto.

Columbus Day has been under a lot of fire — not only recently, but in past times.

Honoring Italians was part of the reasoning behind officially naming Columbus Day in 1937 as a federal holiday. It was Italian American leaders from New York and the Knights of Columbus who helped lobby for its recognition. The initial resistance to the holiday was in opposition to the expansion of Catholic influence and Italian immigrants.

Modern day issues with Columbus Day relate more to the cruel treatment by Columbus and many europeans when they came to this hemisphere of native populations. It’s also viewed by some as a symbol of oppression, and some view him as a murderer.

There’s a good debate here on how Columbus Day should be celebrated with the different sides represented.

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And although the arrival of Columbus did usher in a new era, the idea that he “discovered” America as the first Europeans to land isn’t accurate. Leif Ericson found it 500 years earlier; and most had agreed already that the world was not flat by the time Columbus came around.

Columbus statue, sans hatchet.
Columbus statue, now without hatchet.

So maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise anyone a hatchet ended up taped to the statue. Columbus monuments have been vandalism targets in the last year, with statues in Trenton, Buffalo and Boston all getting defaced.

With downtown Detroit blanketed by cameras nowadays, it’s possible that video will surface of the incident. It’d be interesting to see how the vandals pulled this one off. After all, it’s in the median right behind city hall.

By the time we stopped by, the hatchet was already gone.

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