According to a local news report, middle school social studies teacher Derrick Garforth was charged with felony desecration of a grave or monument after a statue of Christopher Columbus in Providence, Rhode Island, was vandalized on Saturday morning.
Two suspects were splattering paint on wooden barriers set up to protect the Columbus monument in the Elmwood neighborhood of Providence on Saturday morning when they were spotted by police. After a brief chase, Garforth and two other individuals were arrested.
Providence Councilman James Taylor told reporters that the Columbus statue was boarded up on Friday evening due to construction that was taking place in the surrounding park.
“New lighting, new picnic benches, and we were concerned when they bring the equipment that they might hit the statue,” Taylor said.
Garforth, a social studies teacher at Jenks Middle School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was placed on leave by the school district pending an investigation into his actions.
However, a local outlet seemed to want to tie the arrest in with the ‘demonstrations’ taking place in liberal controlled cities across the country.
One of the suspects arrested, Derrick Garforth, is listed on the website for Jenks Middle School in Pawtucket as a social studies teacher. Pawtucket Superintendent Cheryl McWilliams told WPRI 12 on Saturday afternoon that Garforth is out on leave pending an investigation.
“I have just learned about this and the Pawtucket School Department is investigating it,” McWilliams said in an email.
Late Friday night, police said they were monitoring the area of Reservoir at Elmwood Avenue, near the statue of Christopher Columbus, due to information that developed earlier in the evening. The statue itself had recently been boarded up and fenced in due to the possibility of vandals defacing or destroying it.
[Really? That’s not what Councilman James Taylor said… so where did this outlet get that information?]
Just before 1:30 a.m. Saturday, officers said they noticed a vehicle with three people inside, driving around the area with its lights off.
About 10 minutes later, officers said they then saw a man and a woman running towards Columbus Square, carrying something in their hands. When the suspects got closer, they threw the objects toward the area of the statue then ran from the scene, according to police.
White paint could be seen on the boards covering the statue on Saturday.
Officers followed the suspects and were able to stop them on Ontario St. They were later identified as Derrick Garforth, 34, and Charlotte Whittingham, 28.
The officers said they also saw the car the suspects were believed to be in driving slowly on Ontario Street toward Melrose Street.
Police said officers stopped the vehicle and while speaking with the driver, identified as Mackenzie Innis, 26, they saw two open containers of white and purple paint, several rubber gloves, a box of rubber gloves, and several masks inside the car. Innis was then also taken into custody.
When detectives went back to the scene, the paint colors matched what was found inside the suspect’s vehicle.
All three suspects were charged with desecration of a grave or monument and conspiracy. They were arraigned at the Public Safety Complex and released.