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7 arrested after statues vandalized in Miami

Christopher Columbus statue damaged in downtown Miami.
Christopher Columbus statue damaged in downtown Miami. (Miami Police Department)

MIAMI – Seven people were arrested Wednesday after two statues were vandalized in downtown Miami during a protest.

The damaged Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce De Leon statues are located outside Bayside Marketplace.

According to Miami police, a group of protesters were in the area of Biscayne Boulevard and Fourth Street Wednesday when authorities saw several people spray painting the statues.

“A hammer and sickle, among other things, (were) spray-painted on the statues,” police said.

The suspects were arrested after authorities reviewed surveillance cameras in the area.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., condemned the incident on Twitter Thursday morning.

Police said several protesters assaulted officers while they were trying to arrest the suspects and damaged a police vehicle.

A total of seven of the protesters were arrested, police said.

They were identified Thursday as Jason Lewis, 30, of Miami; Christian Diaz, 25, of Miami; Manuel Roman, 29, of Miami Beach; Edwin Guzman, 20, of Lake Worth; Al-aa Ali Massri, 18, of Miami Beach; Joseph Martinez II, 28, of Miami; and Stephon Lin, 20, of Fort Worth, Texas.

They face various charges, including unlawful assembly to commit a breach of peace, resisting an officer, disorderly conduct, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, incite to riot and criminal mischief.

Authorities said the peaceful protesters were not arrested.

“In the City of Miami, we support peaceful protests but there will be zero tolerance for those who hide behind the peaceful protesters to incite riots, damage property, and hurt members of the public or our officers,” the police department said in a statement.

About the Author:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.