FILE - A statue of Christopher Columbus is seen behind barricades at Marconi Plaza, in Phalidelphia, Pennsylvania, June 15, 2020. A similar statue of Columbus was toppled by protesters in Baltimore, Maryland, July 4, 2020.
FILE - A statue of Christopher Columbus is seen behind barricades at Marconi Plaza, in Phalidelphia, Pennsylvania, June 15, 2020. A similar statue of Columbus was toppled by protesters in Baltimore, Maryland, July 4, 2020.

WASHINGTON - Governor Larry Hogan in the eastern U.S. state of Maryland rebuked Baltimore city officials on Sunday for allowing demonstrators to topple a statue of Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer who first landed in the Americas in 1492.

About 300 cheering protesters attached chains to the statue in Baltimore’s Little Italy neighborhood Saturday night and yanked it down, breaking it in pieces and heaving them into the city’s Inner Harbor.

While a national holiday honors Columbus in the U.S. each October, leftist protesters have increasingly vilified him, viewing him as a symbol of colonialism and exploitation of Indigenous people in what 300 years later became the United States. His statue has been knocked down in other U.S. cities as well.

Hogan, in a statement, said, “While we welcome peaceful protests and constructive dialogue on whether and how to put certain monuments in context or move them to museums or storage through a legal process, lawlessness, vandalism, and destruction of public property are completely unacceptable.

“That is the antithesis of democracy and should be condemned by everyone, regardless of their politics,” the Republican governor said. “Baltimore City leaders need to regain control of their own streets and immediately start making them safer.”

The Baltimore demonstration was one of numerous street protests in recent weeks that have targeted statues of key figures from the country’s troubled racial history, chiefly Civil War generals who seceded from the United States in the 1860s and fought a losing war to uphold slavery in the southern part of the country.  

The demonstrations were an outgrowth of protests against police abuse of minorities in the aftermath of the May 25 death of a Black man, George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis. A police officer has been charged with second-degree murder.