Anti-Columbus day protesters vandalize museum in South Philadelphia

By Sierra Dotson
October 22, 2018

On Monday morning at approximately 4:35 a.m., an unidentified protester spray painted Anti-Columbus day messages on the sidewalks of the History of Italian Immigration museum.  A nearby statue of Christopher Columbus was also struck by vandalism.

This statue of Christopher Columbus, located in Marconi Plaza, was vandalized early Monday morning. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Police are speculating that the two incidents may possibly be connected.  No arrests have been made, but police are currently investigating security footage in attempts to identify the vandal.

The suspect carried out the act alone and was spotted wearing a hooded sweatshirt and mask that obstructed their face. On Monday night, NBC10 released videos and photos of the person of interest.

The messages that were written not only contained anti-Columbus day sentiments but also included Anti-Trump and Anti-Fascist views as well. The owners of the museum gave several statements on social media expressing their grief.

Pasquale Nestico, runs the Filitalia center, responsed to the incident. In an interview with 6ABC, he said, “They can have their opinion, but don’t vandalize my property. Don’t vandalize our mission.”

The concept of Columbus day has become incredibly controversial in recent years. Before Pennsylvania was founded, the land had been inhabited by natives for over 18,000 years. Historians estimate that following William Penn’s colonization, over 90 percent of the indigenous population had been wiped out.

Chris Rabb, Pennsylvania State Representative. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Minnesota, Vermont, Alaska, South Dakota and more than 60 cities across the country have already officially renamed the holiday to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” The second Monday in October is still legally regarded as “Columbus Day” in Pennsylvania. However, several state politicians are actively pushing to join the movement.

According to Pennsylvania State Representative Christopher Rabb, the objective of the new holiday is to symbolically honor the victims rather than “glorifying the conquerors who initiated devastation.” Rabb is currently moving to have the holiday’s name changed legally in Pennsylvania. He recently released a legislative memo containing his proposal. However, he is doubtful that it will get enough backing to be brought to the House floor.

Standing Rock Indian Reservation protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. “_MG_0788” (CC BY 2.0) by Duffernutter

“Him and his men didn’t do good things. The Americas were not named after Christopher Columbus. He was not the only explorer to make significant ‘discoveries’ and I use the term discovery very loosely… Being from an Italian-American family myself, it is incredibly frustrating to see so much of history glossed over.” said Nicole Mackowiak, a second year history major at Cabrini.

When asked whether she believed Rabb’s proposal would be well received, Mackowiak said,  “It’s tricky. It all comes down to how people were raised. A lot of people in society today were raised not understanding just how bad things were for native Americans during that time or even how bad things still are.

Just look at Standing Rock or the other poor conditions on our reservations. The fact that there are plenty of people that still paint him as a hero and have parades for him makes me doubtful that it would be initially accepted. It’ll probably take a lot of debate, which it shouldn’t, but I feel like it probably will.”


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Sierra Dotson

Cabrini University 2021 // News Editor 2019-2020

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