Despite the fact that they are as tall and Italian as Bill de Blasio, New York City monuments honoring Christopher Columbus no longer receive round-the-clock police protection.
According to insiders, the NYPD has discreetly ended its years-long practice of providing 24/7 bodyguard protection for bronze sculptures honoring the famous but controversial explorer in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle and Central Park.
Instead, it’s using recently installed surveillance cameras and routine checks by local precincts to keep an eye on the famous monuments, which have become favorite targets of vandals in recent years.
Since the summer of 2020, when nationwide protests over police brutality in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota sparked renewed hatred against monuments honoring historical figures like Columbus who have been accused of oppressive acts, the statues had been primarily under heavy guard. The NYPD began devoting significant resources to protecting the two statues and three more honoring Columbus across the city in 2017.
Many Italian-American leaders were furious with de Blasio at the time for forming a commission to assess the destiny of the city’s potentially offending monuments, believing progressives were attempting to erase Columbus’ achievements from history books. Despite the fact that the Columbus sculptures were saved, vandals have continued to target them.
The NYPD did not reply to inquiries about why the police detail assigned to the monuments was removed, but sources indicated the department would continue to examine its security procedures on a regular basis.