Police Fence Off More Monuments as Daniel Webster Statue is Vandalized

A statue of Christopher Columbus at the Elm Walk in Central Park. Photo by @boysenberry45.

Monuments throughout the neighborhood have been blocked off with metal barricades in recent days as some activists have called for them to be torn down. Two statues of Christopher Columbus — one at Columbus Circle and one inside Central Park — are now surrounded by barricades.

A petition to remove the Columbus Circle statue has been circulated at change.org because he was “a white colonist who slaughtered thousands of Native Americans on their own soil.” Just over 8,500 people had signed it as of Wednesday morning. Governor Cuomo has said it will not be removed. The statue is also barricaded and has police protection.

The Columbus Circle statue. Photo by Stephen Harmon.

The Columbus statue in Central Park is on Literary Walk in the middle of the park near 66h Street.

The Teddy Roosevelt statue outside the Museum of Natural History at 79th Street and Central Park West has also been barricaded, and readers say more than a dozen police officers are nearby, apparently guarding it. That is more officers than protected Roosevelt during his actual presidency — he was normally guarded by “at least two Secret Service men.” A group called Decolonize This Place has threatened to remove the Roosevelt statue, which it considers a token of white supremacy.

And the statue of Daniel Webster in Central Park around 71st Street on the West side of the park was vandalized with anti-police graffiti, apparently on Tuesday night, according to @boysenberry45. Webster was a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State in the first half of the 19th century who called slavery a “great moral, social, and political evil.” But he pushed for harmony with the South rather than a more aggressive stance to eradicate slavery. He died in 1852.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 39 comments | permalink
    1. Joseph Hanania says:

      I am certainly against statues celebrating slaveholders/traders etc. But we, as a city, have to agree on just who those people were.
      To deface the statue of Daniel Webster, celebrated in history books for his anti-slavery views, because he was “insufficiently” anti-slave is a verdict made by a small minority. This verdict would certainly need broader public discussion.
      As for Columbus – and that shot of his head is awesome! – yes, there are disputes about his being the first to discover America, etc. Better, I think, to either put up – or to prominently display – statues to the Viking leaders thought to be the first to discover America.
      Briefly, if a person’s life was about maintaining or profiting from slavery/oppressing/killing others, yes, the celebratory statue should come down. But if their life was about something else – maintaining the Union or discovering what lay beyond the edges of our “flat” earth – and now we find that they had unsavory beliefs/actions by today’s standards, including them in this push is hardly a slam/dunk. Those who want the statues removed should first make their case and convince a majority of us.

      • ben says:

        This amount of logic and reasoning is most definitely beyond the comprehension of the ‘woke’ crowd.

        • MAD says:

          Ah, the thought police are at it again. Let’s go back to the days of highly censored Soviet realism and group think, supervised by the most elite of the elite among us. I shudder to think …

      • Hall Monitor says:

        193 words? C’mon.

        • Bob says:

          I know that a 7 inch seam is supposed to be fashionable these days, but I always feel self-conscious in them. I prefer a 9 inch seam, or even an 11 inch.

          Oh, sorry, thought they said they wanted “shorts” comments.

      • John Gonzalez says:

        I understand the desire to remove Columbus who was cruel and heavy handed to say the least. But he was also an important lighting bolt in history who crossed the Atlantic and was the one who established a lasting link between the American continent and Eurasia. But also I think it is almost impossible to impartially judge historical figures with our values vs theirs. The suggestion to replace Columbus with Viking statues would have the same connotations. Up to 40% of the Icelandic population has Irish heritage from norsemen taking Irish women slaves on their trips north and west. Genghis khan one of the most noted men in history who has multiple statues and one of the largest in the world; notably put close to 80 million people to the sword. I think when looking at these statues you need to somehow separate the man(and all their flaws and 2020 moral failures ) from the achievements and reason they are worthy of a statue in the first place.

      • UWS Wes says:

        Well said.

      • Teri says:

        Well said, Joseph!

      • EricaC says:

        I agree, Joseph.

        And no, removing statues is not “erasing history”, and no, we have no obligation to celebrate people for treason or racist actions. It is not thought police to change which aspects of our past we collectively choose to celebrate.

    2. KMdude says:

      I highly doubt the thugs who vandalized this statue even know or care who Daniel Webster was and they’re certainly not familiar with the intricacies of his biography.

      And Helen Rosenthal wants to “demilitarize” the NYPD.

      I fear for this city’s future and no wonder people are fleeing.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        I see moving trucks every day. Different blocks. My building three residents have moved out since the riots.

        • mkmuws says:

          The riots. Hilarious in its falseness.

          People are leaving because of the pandemic.

          Either way, Bye.

          • UWSHebrew says:

            No, people left in late March because of the pandemic. Now, more people who stayed are leaving because of the riots. I asked them. They told me that. Facts don’t care about your feelings.

    3. Jeff Berger says:

      This is truly scary. An entire generation has been radicalized to hate America. What is next, Mao jackets and little red books? Are we going to go all Chinese Cultural Revolution? Before this gets out of hand, please read “The Commissar Vanishes” by David King. This will not end well, half the country will just not tolerate this nonsense. You must sit your children and grand children down and explain that in a civilized country we don not tear down our past and erase our history.

      • Merrill says:

        History should always be open to reinterpretation.

        Most history taught in American public schools borders on colonialist in its world view. If anything it would be a moral failure to have to sit down and tell your grandkids that you did nothing to combat racism.

    4. Big Earl says:

      Mob mentality at its best. Rome wasn’t built in a day. No need to rip down every statue right away because “the mob” is against it. Lets be rational. Oh, I forgot. Being rational is so pre-covid.

    5. SB says:

      All you boomers need to “flee” the city as well.

      • Burtnor says:

        Why? What is the point of ageist, generational divisiveness?

        And what is the rationale for Boomer attacks? Boomers won important civil and reproductive rights victories, ended the Vietnam and cold wars, reduced nuclear arms, presided over 50 years of peace and prosperity, reduced capital punishment, invented modern technology, funded modern medical research, explored space, called attention to environmental destruction, and gave the world more great popular music than any generation before or since. You’re welcome.

      • dc says:

        Shall the boomers flee and take their tax dollars with them? Then what?

        • UWSHebrew says:

          It’s mindless mobs. All they know is violence, tear it down, shut it down. The 20’s – early 30’s crowd are seething with hate brought to them by their college professors and their useless degrees so they have to work at Starbucks. For them, Socialism / Communism is the answer, because they hate their current lives. They are completely lost, there is no reasoning with them.

      • UWS Dad says:

        Ah yes, when you don’t have an intelligent answer resort to name calling. That will always win the day….

    6. John says:

      I think we should just get rid of all art, books and statutes made before 2020 then every woke person can be happy. (and disarm the police, arm them with feathers)

    7. Dom says:

      Every statue looks like Christopher Columbus to the angry mob. People should put down the cans of spray paint and pick up some books.

    8. Antersies says:

      What’s next?

      Are these defacers of Daniel Webster’s statue going to demand that Huck Finn be removed from West Side libraries?

      And after that, what about Dickens, Thackeray’s Vanity Fair,
      and perhaps even Shakespeare. Book burning anyone. Have we simply forgotten what happened in Germany in 1937 and 1938?

      We can learn from history; however, we can’t erase it.

    9. Perhaps this is how Mr. Scratch finally got some measure of revenge on Daniel Webster over that Jabez Stone matter (and of course, for that ultimate kick!)

      As for the rest, please associate me with John Gonzalez’ excellent comment, among others.

      (see: the Devil & Daniel Webster)
      (see! less than 100 words!)

    10. janis says:

      The people who are doing this don’t even know what the word “facism” means.
      History isn’t always pretty, as attested to by the 650K to 850K people lost in the Civil War.
      To those who want to destroy our past it’s as simple as going to Seattle and join CHAZ or CHOP or whatever it will be called the day after tomorrow.
      And to the Democrat voters in NYC. Republicans know they don’t have a chance to put in another Giuliani to clean up the mess that has been created by DeBlasio. But we do ask that you, at least, vote for a Democrat who knows what the hell he’s doing for ALL New Yorkers. Not just the ones who are friends/real estate developers who donate to his/her election coffers.

      • ConcernedUWSider says:

        So well said. This is the most incredibly ridiculous corrupt pathetic city government we have had in years and our city shows the results. VOTE THEM OUT.

    11. Natali says:

      I have two comments about this. I think this is just going to make a lot of people say, “Oh, the police will protect statues from being hurt but won’t protect actual people?! And not only are they not protecting, they’re the ones doing the hurting.”

      A reporter asked Cuomo if he supports the Columbus statue coming down and he said he doesn’t because the Italian American community thinks of it as representing their accomplishments and contributions to this country. Columbus didn’t actually discover America so they want something fake representing their very real accomplishments/contributions?! Why when there are so many other Italians who made real contributions?!

    12. Newcavendish says:

      Where will it end? Even Daniel Webster! We can’t expect people from the past to have sprung in full wokeness from the thigh of Zeus. There has to be some historical perspective here. There can always be a discussion of pros and cons but people such as Webster and Columbus (a great technological, scientific, financial and ideological achievement, even as we acknowledge the unfortunate consequences for the Indigenous peoples). This has to stop.

      • The truth of the matter is that EVERYONE kept slaves, back in the day: Africans, Arabs, Jews, Romans, American Indians… EVERYONE had, kept, hunted, bought or sold slaves. The Shang dynasty in China would have slave raids in surrounding territory and then kill those slaves captured in ritual sacrifices.

        Eventually, after long discussions and wars over a period of centuries, slavery is almost(but not quite) wiped out. The Arabs probably still keep slaves, but know enough to keep it on the Q.T…. So to say that this was outrageous for those times just isn’t true. FOR THE TIMES it was quite normal…

        Daniel Webster is somebody who was against slavery which, at that time, was pretty progressive… but he wanted to maintain the Union even more, so was willing to work with the South; he wanted to keep our nation together: “Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable”, as it says on his monument.

        Hopefully slavery is something we’ve outgrown culturally, like cannibalism or ritual sacrifice.

        But we’ll see…

    13. mkmuws says:

      Meanwhile, what are the complainers about statues doing about the real issue of the day, the cancer of racial injustice that has always existed in this country? Speaking of reading books…
      The comment board here is a disgraceful bubble.

    14. Ellen Count says:

      We are outgrowing the CULTURE, culturally. To those who predict book burning: tragic but true, we’re headed that way. Who’ll be first to light a match, Washington or Seattle? Well, I’m not hanging around to find out — but I’ll be sure to vote… assuming such an option still exists by November.

    15. Floyd Jarvis says:

      learn more about Decolonize This Place, the organization seeking to remove the statues, here: https://www.thecollegefix.com/professor-who-urged-followers-to-f-sh-up-on-nyc-subway-is-victim-of-counterinsurgency-allies-say/

    16. Toby Chiu says:

      Attempts to removed and/or deface statues proves the Stalinist tendencies of so-called reformers.

      Who’s next….Lincoln!!!!!

    17. Evan Bando says:

      Take down Christopher Columbus statues? Why not go big and boycott all things European. After all, there was no such thing as the United States at the time. They were all Europeans. Before BLM alienates reasonable people who share their cause, I think they should focus on the Confederacy who tried to tear the nation apart for the sake of basing their economy on slave labor. There are plenty of statues and paintings in public buildings and on public land to make the point. It strikes at the heart of the matter. Don’t blow your momentum, BLM.

    18. Joseph Caolon says:


      The truth!

      The mob does not get to decide for all of us.