Chicago police investigate vandalism at George Washington memorial, Christopher Columbus statue

ByAlexis McAdams WLS logo
Sunday, June 14, 2020
George Washington memorial statue spray painted with graffiti in Chicago's Washington Park; Christopher Columbus statue vandalized in Little Italy
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Police are investigating after a George Washington memorial statue was defaced on Chicago's South Side.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago police are investigating vandalism of two historical statues in the city.

A more than 100-year-old statue of America's first president is now covered with graffiti.

Officers patrolling the 5000 block of South King Drive noticed the graffiti in the Washington Park neighborhood Sunday around 7 a.m.

The messages written out in red spray paint on the George Washington memorial statue on the city's South Side read, "Slave Owner" and "Burn Down the White House."

"I think that it is accurate. Some people might not agree with the delivery but the message is on point," said community organizer William Calloway. "George Washington was a slave owner and that is a fact."

The statue depicts Washington during the Revolutionary War. The massive monument has been on the South Side since 1904.

"On MLK Drive, the irony of that," Calloway said.

Early Sunday morning, Chicago police also found a white KKK hood, which police say was placed on the head of the sculpture of the first president of the United States. Officers also found white robes hanging from the trees.

Calloway said the vandalism is a sign that the statue should be taken down.

"The city of Chicago should set an example and take down every statue of all slave owners that exists," Calloway said.

Others see the Washington monument in Chicago's Washington Park as a piece of history.

"That statue been here for forever," said South Side resident Reggie Owens. "It did not bother me."

Resident Sarah Lock said, "It is in the past and now we are looking for the future."

As police blocked off the area, people came to take photos.

Lionel Kimble, a Chicago State University professor of history and African American studies, was one of the people there.

"I think we should have a conversation about what Washington means instead of destroying history," Kimble said. "You cannot understand who you are as a people, if you throw away all the symbols of where you came from. A better conversation would be how can we come to grips with what these people did and where we want to go."

CPD officials said Area 1 Detectives have been notified, and the incident remains under investigation.

Officials say this has not been classified as a hate crime, but rather as criminal property damage.

The city will work on removing the graffiti.

Police said someone poured pink and blue paint on the statue in the 800 block of South Loomis Street.

A Christopher Columbus monument on Chicago's Near West Side also appeared to have been vandalized. A marked CPD vehicle could be seen parked beside the statue Sunday.

Police said someone poured pink and blue paint on the statue in the 800 block of South Loomis Street.

No one is in custody. Police are investigating.