By Becky Johnson, based on San Jose Mercury News,
9 March 2001
San Jose, Ca.—Wielding a sledgehammer, justice activist James Cosner smashed a life-size statue of Christopher Columbus in front of dozens of witnesses at City Hall in San Jose, California on Thursday, March 8th. As the seven-types of marble chips flew from the blows, Cosner shouted
This man rode our backs!
This man murdered us!
Most Americans do not know the murderous history of Christopher Columbus. Examining primary historical sources by Bartolome de las Casas, the biographer of ColumbusÂ’ son, Columbus made four voyages to the New World. He encountered the Arawaks, who occupied Haiti. An early census of the Arawak was 1.1 million, not counting children. According to a conservative estimate over 3 million Arawak lived on Haiti in pre-Columbian times. Columbus kidnapped , enslaved, and murdered the Arawak people. He ruled with severe discipline ordering the cutting off of ears or nose as punishment for minor crimes.
When the Arawaks fought back, Columbus used the excuse to wage war. On March 24th, 1495 Columbus set out to conquer the Arawaks. With 20 hunting dogs, horses, and guns Columbus set upon the Arawaks, tearing them up with dogs and mowing them down with volleys of bullets, and running them over with horses. Reporting back to Queen Isabel of Spain, Columbus boasted
In the name of the holy trinity, we can send from here all the slaves that Brazil will hold. The Spaniards hunted Indians for sport and murdered them for dog food.
Seeking gold, he enslaved the remaining Arawaks to work the mines. Those who refused had their hands cut off. Conditions for the Arawak become so intolerable that as many as 100 at a time would commit suicide. Women were known to kill their newborn babies, rather than have them raised in such hideous circumstances. Columbus would reward his officers with women to rape. Girls 10 to 12 were especially desired for rape.
When Columbus son took over in 1505, he continued the slaughter. Only some 12,000 remained by 1516. By 1555 not a single Arawak remained. Haiti remains one of the primary instances of genocide in human history to be followed by more instances of genocide in Puerto Rico and Cuba. The presence of the statue prominently placed in City Hall in San Jose has been reviled by native Americans as a sick reminder of the ruthless slaughter and conquest of indigenous people in the New World.
Having smuggled the sledgehammer into City Hall, Cosner struck the marble statue breaking off the arm, both legs, and cracking pits into the face. He cracked off the top of the scroll held by Columbus, so that the torso only remained standing by the flowing waves of the marble cape, which was still connected to the pedestal.
One passerby, Jaime Nava approached Cosner and tried to talk him into stopping. As Nava tried to calm Cosner, plainclothes officer Chris Galios, Mayor Ron Gonzales' bodyguard, arrived and tried to persuade Cosner to stop. But it was only when three uniformed officers came through the front door with their guns drawn that Cosner ceased.
Nava used his body to shield Cosner, who had backed against a wall. Officers then handcuffed Cosner, who told them: ``I'm not fighting. I'm very calm. I'm very calm.'' San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzalez vowed to restore the statue, which will then be moved in front of the new City Hall when it opens downtown.
Cosner, a native American who has been active in protests against the injustice committed against the homeless in Santa Cruz under the Sleeping Ban, in the struggle to free Mumia Abu Jamal, and against the bombing in Yugoslavia. In 1996, he was one of six people who locked down at City Hall to protest the anti-homeless Sleeping Ban in Santa Cruz. In 1999 he was arrested in Rep. Sam FarrÂ’s office to protest the civilian bombing of Yugoslavia.
He was arrested at another protest on May 22nd in front of the McPherson Center where a Democratic Party fundraiser was held, supporting ex-President ClintonÂ’s
Bomb Belgrade campaign. He, along with Steve Argue, became one of the Santa Cruz 5, arrested for resisting a police disruption of a legitimate political protest. Later in 1999, he attended the protests in Seattle against the WTO. Cosner remains in the Santa Clara County Jail, booked on suspicion of vandalism, making terrorist threats and destruction of a civic monument. His bail, originally set at $4,000 has been raised to $50,000.
As of Monday 3:30 PM, a female deputy at the jail who identified herself only as #132 refused to answer why the bail cost was raised, what the current bail was, and what the current charges were. She did state that Cosner was being arraigned and that his files would return by 2 a.m. Tuesday. She acknowledged that she did have current information on the computer, but declined to release that information. Informed sources confirmed later that Cosner was taken to court on Monday afternoon, not charged, and scheduled for arraignment on Thursday afternoon (1-5 PM).
Sources for historical information on ColumbusÂ’s genocidal policies: History of the Indies by Bartolome de las Casas translated by Andree M. Collard ; Select Letters of Christopher Columbus translated and edited by R. H. Major ; A PeopleÂ’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn ; The Log of Christopher ColumbusÂ’s First Voyage to America in the Year 1492, as copied out in brief by las Casas ; all from Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen 
Sources for the Cosner information: San Jose Mercury News 3-9 & 3-10
From: Jim Vivian
To: Jim Vivian *
Subject: CRITICAL BAIL HEARING and PRESS CONFERENCE MONDAY for JIM
COSNER/re: COLUMBUS STATUE
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2001 02:42:55 -0800
THE PROSECUTION IS NOW CHARGING JIM COSNER WITH A
HATE CRIME FOR SMASHING THE COLUMBUS STATUE IN SAN JOSE CITY HALL; AND THREATEN TO ADD MORE CHARGES
JIM COSNER'S BAIL WAS ALREADY RAISED FROM $4000 TO $50,000 AFTER HIS ARREST
NOW THE PROSECUTION WANTS TO INCREASE JIM'S BAIL AGAIN !
DEFENSE TO ARGUE FOR REASONABLE BAIL -- $50,000 BAIL IS USUALLY ONLY FOR SERIOUS VIOLENT FELONIES SUCH AS RAPE AND MURDER
MONDAY, MARCH 19th (Press Conference 12:30pm, Bail Hearing 1:30pm
Santa Clara County Superior Court, 200 West Hedding, San JosÃ©, CA
(between 1st St. and Guadalupe Highway 87)
PRESS CONFERENCE IN FRONT OF COURT AT 12:30 PM
BAIL HEARING 1:30 PM COURTROOM TBA
needed: character reference letters
Info: (831) 423-HUFF or (408) 562-2556, firstname.lastname@example.org