USS Maine Statue in New York's Columbus Circle Defaced With Anti-Police Graffiti

Six protesters were arrested Thursday night in a dispute with police near the USS Maine National Monument in New York City's Columbus Circle after demonstrators defaced the monument with anti-police graffiti.

USS Maine
A person walks on a mostly deserted street at Columbus Circle on April 29, 2020, in New York City. Rob Kim/Getty Images

ACAB, which stands for "All cops are bastards," and F–k 12, which means "F***k the police," were spray-painted on the monument at the entrance to Central Park in Manhattan last night. Social media videos of the scene featured members of the demonstration waving flags and standing on the monument, which was also splattered with blood-red paint, according to the New York Post.

Paint was splattered all over a Statue at Columbus Square
Filmed and owned by leeroy Johnson #EarthDay #EarthDay2021 #NewYork

— Leeroy Johnson (@LeeroyPress) April 23, 2021

The crowd of protesters was associated with the Stonewall Protests, a group that self-identifies as "black queer and black trans activists centered on the acknowledgement of all Black life," the Post reported. The group peacefully demonstrates weekly outside of the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City's Greenwich Village.

Members of the protest marched from Greenwich Village and arrived at Columbus Circle around 10 p.m. Thursday, according to WABC-TV in New York. The Twitter account Protest NYC reported that the crowd of up to 300 people was surrounded by a "heavy police presence" as it moved and that people carried a banner reading "Justice for Ma'Khia Bryant," the 16-year-old Black girl who was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday.

Chaos Erupts at protest in NYC.
Multiple arrests were made
Filmed and owned by leeroy Johnson #NewYork #BLM #police #BreakingNews

— Leeroy Johnson (@LeeroyPress) April 23, 2021

Police maintained a presence around the crowd as it reached the monument, but once demonstrators were finally dispersed, the scene escalated as police moved in and began arresting protesters, "shoving people with batons," according to an account of the event by Ash J on Twitter.

"After a night of peaceful protesting, NYPD waited for most protesters to leave, and then swarmed those remaining on the sidewalk," Protest NYC tweeted. "Police targeted organizers. Multiple arrests made."

NYPD attacked the weekly Stonewall protest in NYC earlier tonite. Cops waited until the protest was dispersing (near 59th street & 5th Ave in Manhattan) & for the crowd to dwindle down. Then they moved in & started snatching people & shoving people with batons.

— Ash J (@AshAgony) April 23, 2021

The police justified their intervention by saying that vandalism was not an acceptable form of peaceful protest. The group of demonstrators reportedly defaced a bus and the outside of a restaurant.

"During the protest tonight six individuals were arrested for assault and for damage to public property," NYPD Manhattan South said in a tweet late Thursday night, adding that the destruction to any property would not be tolerated.

We respect's everyone right to peacefully protest, but vandalism is not part of peaceful protest. We are working to de-escalate the situation to prevent further damage from occurring.

— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) April 23, 2021

"We respect everyone's right to peacefully protest, but vandalism is not part of peaceful protest," the New York Police Department said in a tweet. "We are working to de-escalate the situation to prevent further damage from occurring."

Footage tonight of the police presence at Columbus Circle, where 6 participants of the weekly Stonewall Protests were arrested and 2 people were sent to the hospital by the NYPD for allegedly splashing paint.

Footage is muted to protect the identity of the person who filmed it.

— talia jane (@taliaotg) April 23, 2021

The arrests come amid a week of heightened tensions across the country regarding policing, with Bryant's death occurring just as the guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin was announced in Minneapolis. The funeral of another Black man shot and killed by a police officer in Minnesota, Daunte Wright, was held on Thursday.

In a reaction to Thursday night's arrests, Talia Jane said in a tweet: "This is the NYPD making up for them not brutalizing anyone the night of the Chauvin verdict."

Newsweek reached out to the NYPD for comment but did not hear back by publication time.