Columbus Statue in Chula Vista Vandalized on Columbus Day

The statue sits in Discovery Park on Buena Vista Way, and has been a topic of controversy for many years

A Christopher Columbus statue that sits at Discovery Park in Chula Vista was found covered in red paint on Columbus Day in an act of suspected vandalism.

The Chula Vista Police Department said city crews would clean off the paint and officers would launch an investigation.

It’s not the first time the statue on Buena Vista Way has been vandalized.

Last February, the statue was painted red, a bronze plaque was stolen, and the word "genocide" was spray-painted on the statue.

A Chula Vista spokesperson said the statue was installed in 1991 when Discovery Park opened. 

The City of Chula Vista sent this statement to NBC 7:

“City of Chula Vista crews are cleaning a statue of Christopher Columbus that was vandalized in Discovery Park over the weekend. Chula Vista Police Department officers are conducting an investigation into the crime. Additionally, the City has received a request to consider removing the statue and renaming Discovery Park. The Human Relations Commission and the Parks and Recreation Commission will consider the item at a future meeting and potentially make a recommendation to the City Council.”

Oscar Aguirre lives in Chula Vista and said the last time the statue was vandalized, it was much worse. Aguirre said he sees both sides of the Columbus Day controversy.

“I’m kind of for it and kind of against what Columbus stands for. Now that the country is becoming more educated, the young people are being more boisterous. I understand what they are going through and what they see happening. They’re still being kind of persecuted against so I understand that, but they shouldn’t deface public property. It’s for the people to enjoy,” said Oscar Aguirre, Chula Vista resident.

The Chula Vista incident happened as a handful of states celebrated their first Indigenous Peoples Day as part of a trend to move away from a day honoring Christopher Columbus. 

Since 1992, Native American advocates have pressed states to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day over concerns that Columbus helped launched centuries of genocide against indigenous populations in the Americas.

The change to Indigenous Peoples Day prompted some backlash in conservative circles and among Italian Americans. University of Maine College Republicans, for example, have described the move as part of a "radical left-wing agenda."

Chula Vista City Council members also responded to NBC 7 about the vandalism:

"Above all else, this is vandalism against a community park and will cost citizens thousands of dollars to clean and repair. Columbus is an historical figure from over 500 years ago. If people do not like Columbus, then they should have an open civil dialogue, instead of promoting violence which they are claiming to condemn,” said John McCann, Councilmember District 1.

"I never support criminal acts of vandalism. That said I think it may be time for community dialogue around this and perhaps acknowledge the awful history here and do something to honor and respect the experience and legacy of our indigenous peoples instead," said Stephen Padilla, District 3 councilmember for the city of Chula Vista.

"We don’t tolerate vandalism of any kind in Chula Vista. If an individual objects to any public statue or memorial of any kind, the proper form of objection should be to contact your local elected representative(s)," added Jill Galvez, District 2 councilmember.

Anyone with information about the suspect or suspects responsible for the vandalism of the Columbus statue at Discovery Park can reach out to the Chula Vista Police Department at (619) 691-5151.

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