6 arrested, Columbus Circle monument defaced in several acts of vandalism

COLUMBUS CIRCLE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Six people were arrested after the USS Maine National Monument in Columbus Circle was defaced with anti-police graffiti Thursday night, one of several incidents of vandalism across the city.

The protesters were arrested on charges ranging from assault to damage to public property after police say they also threw paint cans at responding officers.

"This week, they chose to go to Columbus Circle and throw some red paint at some statues," NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison said. "But my biggest concern was they threw some paint and threw some paint cans at my police officers. There's no tolerance for that. Those individuals were escorted out of the mix of the protesters and a couple arrests were made."

Protesters started in Greenwich Village and marched through Manhattan, arriving just after 10 p.m. in Columbus Circle -- which has long been a main protest location, home to the Trump International Hotel and the Columbus Circle statue.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said vandalism is "the wrong way to go about" protesting.

"It's not legal, and there will be consequences," he said. "You want to make change, go out and protest peacefully. You want to make change, work with other leaders and organizations to achieve it. But it's just wrong. It's just wrong, and we are going to keep trying to make clear to people, if you are a peaceful protester and you see folks planning violence or planning to destroy property, separate from them. Don't let them undermine the meaning of what good peaceful protest is trying to achieve."

Additionally, an MTA bus was sprayed with graffiti at Abingdon Square and Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, and graffiti was sprayed on the outdoor dining partition of at The Cafe-Flor restaurant located on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea.

Spray paint was also found on another restaurant in Chelsea, a construction site in Midtown, and on the the William Tecumseh Sherman Monument at Grand Army Plaza on the East Side.

"We respect's everyone right to peacefully protest, but vandalism is not part of peaceful protest," the NYPD tweeted.

Police are looking for several suspects in connection with these incidents, and anyone with information is urged to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).

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