New York City Christopher Columbus Statue Placed on 24-Hour Watch Because of Race Debate

A view of the statue of Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus) in Madrid on March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Paul Hanna

New York City's latest security concern: a statue of Christopher Columbus.

The NYPD has placed the old marble statue near Central Park under 24/7 security to prevent it from being vandalized before the controversial holiday on Monday.

Round-the-clock security for the statue gives it the same threat-level status as such notable targets as the Israeli mission to the U.N., the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, Trump Tower and the mayor himself.

The NYPD declined to comment on threats to the statue but cited recent efforts to deface the Columbus monument. The monument of the Italian explorer was vandalized twice in September—once with pink nail polish, and once with red paint.

"In light of recent vandalism, the NYPD has assigned patrol resources to maintain a post in the vicinity of the Columbus Statue," the NYPD said in a statement.

A Newsweek reporter visited the Columbus Circle site on Friday and confirmed that at least one officer was indeed guarding a statue.

Of course social media has ridiculed the heightened protection.

"Unreal that we have to post police officers to watch over a statue," said Twitter user @sheriff_marty.

"This has nothing to do with Columbus, just vandals who should be charged with a federal crime. Make it a National Monument like it should be," said Twitter user @Royrogue25.

People who would vandalize Christopher Columbus statue at Columbus Circle in NYC have way too much time on their hands.

— The Rombach Report (@club_ed8) October 5, 2017

The mockery is part of a larger debate over whether the monument should be taken down. In early September, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio created a commission to examine all city monuments and make recommendations on whether each should be removed, renamed or reinterpreted.

The federal holiday commemorating Columbus's famed 1492 voyage was created in 1937 to honor not just the supposed founding father of the Americas but also the contributions of all Italian-Americans.

But in recent years, the holiday has come under fire from people who see Columbus not as a brave leader but as a conquerer whose voyages led to the death and relocation of millions of indigenous Americans who were living in North America when he showed up.

Instead of commemorating Columbus, Los Angeles County recently replaced the holiday with Indigenous People's Day, and several cities in the U.S. have also decided to celebrate the culture of Native Americans instead of the controversial federal holiday. Some states like Alaska and Hawaii have never officially declared a Columbus Day holiday.

It was not until later scholars learned that the explorer who "sailed the ocean blue" did not discover America at all but ended up in the Bahamas. Explorer Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian who sailed for France, was the first European to make it to the Americas.

There is a bridge located across New York Harbor that is named for him. It is not guarded by the NYPD 24 hours a day, seven days a week.