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Say it pain’t so: Washington Square Arch vandalized

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | George Washington was left red-faced, literally — after the Washington Square Arch was doused with paint early Monday morning.

Robert Jackson, a community affairs officer at the Sixth Precinct, said the vandalism was reported around 3 a.m. on Monday.

Both statues on the marble triumphal arch’s northern side — “Washington at War” and “Washington at Peace”— were covered in red paint.

The partially cleaned “Washington at Peace” statue. (Photo by The Village Sun)

There were also several large red blobs with paint streaks streaming down from them on the piers on the arch’s southern side.

The Parks Department quickly set about power-washing the offending pigment off the monument.

“We received reports of vandalism this morning,” said Megan Moriarty, a Parks Department spokesperson. “Our crew immediately assessed conditions and started removing the paint from the Arch.”

Red paint blobs on the arch’s southern side. (Photo by The Village Sun)

By Monday around 11 a.m., most of the red paint had been removed from the “Washington at Peace” statue, and a worker wielding a power-washer had moved on to the “Washington at War,” on the eastern pier. The paint appeared to be coming off pretty quickly.

The commander in chief of the Continental Army as well as the first U.S. president, Washington is known as the Father of Our Country. He was, however, also a slave owner. Though he did free his slaves upon his death — the only slaveholding Founding Father to do so.

A Parks worker power-washing one of the Washington statues on Monday. (Photo by The Village Sun)

The arch — which commemorates the centennial of Washington’s inauguration as president — is the world-renowned symbol of Greenwich Village.

Sean Sweeney, a vice president with the Downtown Independent Democrats political club, saw the paint-splattered public artwork around 9 a.m. on Monday.

“Pretty stupid, in my opinion,” he said. “It only gives fuel to the right wing.”

“Crime scene” outlines were painted around the fountain’s perimeter. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Some passersby snapping photos of the splattered landmark a couple of hours later were disapproving of the attack.

“Not Washington,” one man said, with disgust.

“Wait till October,” another warned, knowingly. He didn’t explain exactly what he meant, but Columbus Day is that month.

A “ghost” of cleaned-off anti-police graffiti referring to “12,” a nickname for the police, on the arch, possibly from an earlier vandalism incident. (Photo by The Village Sun)

The Parks Department said anyone who observes vandalism in city parks should report it to 311.

But Sugar Barry, a member of the Washington Square Association, said she would have done more than than just call for help.

“I was sorry not to have been there,” she said. “My umbrella would have been a weak weapon but wielded with enthusiasm at the defacers!

As consciousness of racial justice sweeps the country, statues of past leaders tainted by racism and slavery have been targeted for removal.

The name “George Floyd” was also painted on the Washington Square Park fountain. Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis — during which a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes — has sparked worldwide protests over police brutality and racism. (Photo by The Village Sun)

In New York City, Council Speaker Corey Johnson has called for the Thomas Jefferson statue in City Hall to get the boot.

And, as first reported by The Village Sun, Paul Newell, a Lower East Side district leader, is advocating for Peter Stuyvesant’s name to be stripped from anywhere and everywhere it appears — including Stuyvesant Town, Stuyvesant High School, Stuyvesant St., Stuyvesant Square Park and even the Peter Stuyvesant Little League. The neighborhood Bedford-Stuyvesant and two Upstate towns named after the New Netherland leader should also be renamed, he said.

One Comment

  1. […] statue of George Washington on the arch in Washington Square was pelted with red paint this week. Washington, of course, was also a major slave-holder. Ironically, while never […]

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