Kit Carson Statue In Trinidad Vandalized

July 3, 2020
Someone spray painted the word "murderer" on the base of a Kit Carson statue in Trinidad, Colo.Someone spray painted the word "murderer" on the base of a Kit Carson statue in Trinidad, Colo. David Santisevan / The World Journal
Someone spray painted the word "murderer" on the base of a Kit Carson statue in Trinidad, Colo.

A statue of frontiersman Kit Carson was vandalized in Trinidad this week. Someone wrote the word "murderer" across the front and back of the base in black spray paint.

The vandalism comes as officials in Denver removed a Kit Carson statue last Friday after the American Indian Movement wrote a letter to city council. The removal was "done proactively for safety and as a precautionary measure," a city spokesperson told The Colorado Sun

"I just hope this will not continue," said Phil Rico, Trinidad's mayor, about the incident earlier this week. He's concerned that the vandalism will affect the image of the city.

The statue was first installed in 1913 to honor Carson's role in Westward expansion. But as historical statues from all over the country have come under attack, representatives of the American Indian Movement have called Kit Carson an "Indian murderer."

"On the Old Santa Fe Trail, 1822-1879"; dedication of Kit Carson Park & unveiling of the Kit Carson Statue, Trinidad, Colo., June 1, '13. Almeron Newman, photographerCredit Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, PAN SUBJECT - Events no. 127 (E size) P&P
"On the Old Santa Fe Trail, 1822-1879"; dedication of Kit Carson Park & unveiling of the Kit Carson Statue, Trinidad, Colo., June 1, '13. Almeron Newman, photographer

Historian Hampton Sides wrote about Kit Carson in the book Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West. He spoke with NPR's Scott Simon in 2006.

"His contradictions mirror the ambiguities in the whole Western expansion. Because it was a glorious adventure in many ways and an unbelievable shameful act as well," Sides said.

Jay Gonzales (left) and Ty Winter clean the word "murderer" off the base of a Kit Carson statue in Trinidad, Colo.Credit David Santisevan / The World Journal
Jay Gonzales (left) and Ty Winter clean the word "murderer" off the base of a Kit Carson statue in Trinidad, Colo.

Mayor Rico said understanding the full scope of history in a place like Trinidad is important.

He also said that the city will prosecute to the full extent of the law if the vandals are caught.

Volunteers cleaned up the statue the following day.

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