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Group Calls Columbus Statue Vandalism 'An Instrument Of Hate Against Italian Americans'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- With a new social media campaign targeting Columbus Day, the NYPD is ramping up plans to protect statues across the city.

Vandals have already attacked statues of Christopher Columbus all over the metropolitan area, cops arrested a homeless man this weekend trying to put pink nail polish on the statue in Columbus Circle, and they're still looking for those responsible for defacing the statue in Central Park a few weeks ago -- it's hands were painted blood red.

The apparent threat #SomethingsComing was spray painted on the base, and has now taken on new meaning; activists are aiming for Columbus Day.

The NYPD told CBS2 it is aware of a social media campaign demanding action against Columbus Day. As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer explained it has local Italian American groups all riled up.

"It's disgusting, again I think it's just another example of politicians who have turned this into a hate campaign against Italian Americans. Columbus is being used as an instrument of hate against Italian Americans," Joseph Guagliardo, Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations, said.

"That's really unfortunate. Italian Americans have paraded peacefully for 80 years and now for it to create a situation where there may be some violation or desecration doesn't serve any purpose at all," Philip Foglia, Italian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, explained.

The NYPD said it will be on the case and there will be added surveillance.

"We've seen the video and are making adjustments to patrols with uniformed officers and plain clothes cops as needed," a police spokesman said.

With Mayor Bill de Blasio planning to march in the Columbus Day Parade, city hall is also involved.

"The NYPD is closely tracking the social media campaign and regularly assessing security needs around Columbus statues," city hall spokesman Austin Finan said. "As the mayor has maintained, vandalism is wrong and never the right or productive approach to these conversations or monuments."

"If it was a group of Italians that did this it would be considered organized crime," Guagliardo said.

All of this comes as the National Congress of American Indians has formally asked the mayor to remove the statue in Columbus Circle.

Local candidates for public office have until Thursday to respond to a questionnaire from the Italian American groups about whether the statue should stay or go.

So far, 29 said it should stay, there has been silence from the mayor.


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