Christopher Columbus statue defaced with red paint in Houston's Bell Park

Houston police have stepped up security at several monuments around the city after an incident of vandalism at a Christopher Columbus statue in the Museum District.

City crews spent all day Friday cleaning red paint from the statue in Bell Park. It is unclear when the vandalism happened or if there are any suspects.

The vandalism comes amid a debate over Confederate statues across the United States. On Saturday, hundreds of Black Lives Matters protesters are set to march from downtown the Spirit of Confederacy statue at Sam Houston Park.

"Why? Because we need to remove positive reinforcement for white supremacy," said rally organizer Asthon P. Woods.

HPD's special response team will be on standby during the demonstration, and roads near Sam Houston Park will be closed.

Chief Art Acevedo said the department's goal is to maintain public safety and to protect the statue, preventing a repeat of the violence seen in Charlottesville last week.

"We're not going to get in their way, they're not going to get in our way. We're not going to stop them from doing their job and they won't stop us from doing what we came to do," Woods added.

Mayor Sylvester Turner launched a review of Confederate statues within the city in response to calls from the public.

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