LITTLE ITALY — A prominent statue of Christopher Columbus was hit with graffiti early Saturday morning, officials said.
At around 12:05 a.m., three men were seen "defacing" the statue, which sits on Polk and Loomis streets on the western edge of Arrigo Park in Little Italy, police said.
They were confronted by a witness, and the men fled the scene on bicycles, police said.
One man, 30, fell off his bike and was held by the witness until police arrived.
Charged was Kyle Miskell, 30, of Pilsen. Miskell faces criminal damage to government property and criminal defacement of property, according to ABC7.
An off-duty Chicago police officer saw the three and tracked down Miskell, who fell off his bike as other officers arrived, the Tribune said. Miskell — wearing rubber gloves, a ski mask, a bandana and black socks over his shoes — was found with a can of spray paint, the paper said.
Miskell held on $3,000 bail.
Bob O'Neill, who lives in the neighborhood, said he went by the scene shortly after the incident and saw police arresting the man, who was wearing a black ski mask.
Another neighbor said the statue had the words "F--- Columbus" spray-painted on the back and another anti-colonial message. His face and hair were painted red.
Park District crews quickly cleaned up the graffiti Saturday morning. A pink tinge could still be seen on the hand of Columbus. A wall nearby was also damaged.
The vandalism comes ahead of a neighborhood parade and wreath laying at the statue on Columbus Day, which is Monday.
The 65th annual Columbus Day Parade is also Downtown Monday. The parade kicks off at 1 p.m. on State Street between Lake and Van Buren streets.
The statue has been a frequent target for vandalism over the years.
Last November, anti-Trump graffiti was scrawled on it in red spraypaint.
"F--- Trump" was painted on the front of it. "Racist F--- You" was painted on the back.
A concrete wall next to the statue was tagged with a message saying "Blacks Queer Trans Lives Matter." Another message said "And Still I Rise."
Sculptor Moses Ezekiel's statue of Columbus has been at the park since 1966. It was first exhibited in the Italian pavilion at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.