Christopher Columbus statue
Italian explorer Christopher Columbus' life and exploration is celebrated every year on 12 October.Getty

A statue of explorer Christopher Columbus was vandalised in Detroit as the US celebrated Columbus Day on 12 October. A hatchet was taped to the statue's head and fake blood poured down its face and chest, according to media reports. Italian explorer Christopher Columbus is credited with crossing the Atlantic and discovering the Americas in 1492.

The axe remained on the statue for most of the day until it was removed by the Delta Bravo Urban Exploration Team. In a video posted on Periscope, members of the group can be seen climbing the statue and removing it. The statue is located next to Detroit's City Hall, however, it remains unclear when it was vandalised. Detroit police have said that they are looking into the incident and a spokesperson for mayor Dan Austin said that city officials would have the fake blood cleaned by 13 October.

The Columbus statue was made by Italian sculptor Augusto Rivalta and was given to the city of Detroit on 12 October 1910. For nearly 80 years the US has observed the day as a federal holiday in honour of the explorer, shutting down US Postal Service, governments, as well as many businesses. However, many critics of the celebration have said that Columbus Day could also be seen as support for the genocide of indigenous people in the area that began after the discovery of the Americas.

The Twitter hashtag #ColumbusDay was trending on 12 October but it appeared that most of the comments on the hashtag were criticising the holiday. Many indicated that Columbus Day was a celebration of colonialism and that it is offensive to the continent's indigenous people. Others have also accused the explorer of genocide.