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Activist takes sledgehammer to Christopher Columbus monument in northeast Baltimore

A video uploaded to YouTube shows a local activist, who identifies himself as "Ty," smashing the plaque on the Christopher Columbus Obelisk just off Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore.

"Christopher Columbus symbolizes the initial invasion of European capitalism into the Western Hemisphere," "Ty" says in a voiceover as footage shows him walking to the two-centuries-old monument with a sledgehammer. "Columbus initiated a centuries-old wave of terrorism, murder, genocide, rape, slavery, ecological degradation and capitalist exploitation of labor in the Americas. That Columbian wave of destruction continues on the backs of Indigenous, African-American and brown people."

"Ty" also raises issues about other racist monuments in the city, saying, "Baltimore's poverty is concentrated in African-American households, and these statues are just in extra slap in the face." Alluding to the growing national controversy surrounding Confederate monuments in the U.S., he labels "hate-filled monuments" as tools of white supremacy.

After taping a sign to the monument that reads "The Future is Racial and Economic Justice," "Ty" crushes the plaque inscribed with "Sacred to the Memory of Chris. Columbus Oct. XII MDCC VIIIC" as another activist holds a sign that reads "Racism Tear It Down." Watch the clip below.

The video was shared by the activist group Popular Resistance, which also published an article on the vandalism of the monument.

"The deep culture of racism, colonization, white supremacy is seen in the monuments and memorials glorifying the purveyors of violence," it reads, in part. "Ty expresses the expectation that people will show their support for Columbus and [George] Washington, which is just further evidence of the widespread acceptance of racist behavior even when it includes genocide and mass slavery."

There are two other monuments to Columbus in Baltimore, one near Little Italy and one in Druid Hill Park.

In recent years, activists have pushed back against Columbus Day, pointing to the mass killings of the indigenous people and eventual colonization of the Americas after the explorer "discovered" the continents. A bill in the Baltimore City Council that called for changing Columbus Day to a holiday for indigenous peoples and Italian-Americans failed to pass in the council's final session of 2016.

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