Rhode Island official says she supports vandalism of Christopher Columbus statue

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A city official in Rhode Island has said she agreed with the vandalization of a local Christopher Columbus statue.

Providence City Councilor Katherine Kerwin said Wednesday that she supports removing the statue, which was doused in red paint Monday and had a sign placed at its base that read: "stop celebrating genocide."

“I don’t know who did it, but they created a really healthy dialogue in Providence,” Kerwin, who serves on the council’s committee on city property and the committee on public works, told WPRO News.

A sign reading "stop celebrating genocide" sits at the base of a statue of Christopher Columbus on Monday in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith)

She said she doesn't know who was responsible for the vandalism, but that "I stand with them." The city's Democratic mayor, Jorge Elorza, has said he would consider moving the statue to another location.

The statue was targeted by vandals on Columbus Day, a federal holiday to celebrate the famed Italian explorer. The figure was one of several vandalized nationwide on the day.

In San Francisco, someone wrote, "Destroy all monuments of genocide and kill all colonizers," below a statue in the city's Little Italy neighborhood.

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Native American groups have long voiced opposition to celebrating Columbus Day. Contemporary reports have depicted the explorer as a tyrannical colonial administrator who oversaw a genocide of local native peoples. Several states and hundreds of cities have renamed Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day to honor those killed by European settlers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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