WASHINGTON — Four people were arrested after the Christopher Columbus statue near Union Station was vandalized with spray paint by D.C. protesters Saturday evening, D.C. Police said.
Police said 28-year-old Steve Chang, 51-year-old Michael Klaus, of Alexandria, Va., and 25-year-old Adam Cunningham, of Capitol Heights, Md., were arrested for possession of a destructive device and assault on a police officer. And a 15-year-old boy from Alexandria, Va., was arrested for assault on a police officer, possession of a destructive device, and possession of an axe near the 800 block of 7th Street Northwest.
The destruction was captured in pictures taken by WUSA9 after protesters had moved away from the area.
Words including "murderer," "F&#@ Pigs," "He did what he was trained to do," and the name "Daunte (Wright)," were spray-painted on the statue and around it.
Road flares were also captured on the ground by the statue.
Christopher Columbus statues have been a target by some protesters and rioters over the last year, and more notably in other cities in the U.S., such as the City of Baltimore.
Columbus statues have been seen by some as tributes to a man that had a negative impact and exploited native peoples in the Americas.
There was a substantial police presence on display Saturday evening in D.C amid tensions over the death of Daunte Wright by a police officer in Minneapolis, and with the Derek Chauvin murder trial almost nearing its end.
Protesters were also out in D.C. Friday evening.
Police also need the public's help in identifying a person who they said assaulted a police officer during a protest on U Street Northwest Friday night, the Metropolitan Police Department said.
D.C. Police will initiate a full department activation next week in anticipation of possible protests in response to a verdict in the Chauvin murder trial.
Chauvin is the former Minneapolis police officer currently standing trial for the death of George Floyd in May 2020. Floyd’s death after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than 9 minutes prompted nationwide protests and drew thousands to “Black Lives Matter” events in the District.
Protests in June drew what was seen as a heavy-handed response from the federal government, including the mobilization of unmarked Bureau of Prisons riot officers and the use of a National Guard helicopter to attempt to disperse crowds.
In an internal MPD email obtained by WUSA9, the department informed officers that, beginning the morning of April 19, MPD would be “fully activated to support expected First Amendment demonstrations.”
“All members should be prepared to work extended hours as necessary,” the message read.