Vandals splattered paint onto a bronze bust of Martin Luther King Jr. and a 7-foot-tall statue of Christopher Columbus in Houston as nationwide turmoil over historical statues spilled beyond the protests over Confederate monuments.
The MLK statue in the historically black community of Sunnyside was found smeared with white paint early Thursday morning.
The towering statue of Christopher Columbus in the Montrose area was doused with red paint sometime Thursday night, Houston police officials said Friday.
The reports mark the first known acts of vandalism in Houston on historic statues during a week in which protesters are demanding the removal of Confederate memorials in Houston and across the nation.
The Houston Police Department is investigating both incidents, but no one had been arrested as of Friday afternoon. Officials wouldn’t say whether they believed the attacks were linked.
“We’re going to try to catch people in the act so we can arrest them because there’s no excuse for vandalism,” Chief Art Acevedo said.
Anyone involved could face a charge of criminal mischief, police said.
Police, meanwhile, are beefing up manpower for a planned “Destroy the Confederacy” protest Saturday at Sam Houston Park amid calls for the city to remove a Confederate statue. Counter-protesters are also planning to rally at the site.
“We’re not going to stand by and watch people destroy property,” Acevedo said. “If it happens, it’s because we didn’t do our job.”