Police: 7 arrested after Columbus, Ponce De Leon statues vandalized in downtown Miami

Police say some protesters turned on them while arresting initial three suspects

Christopher Columbus statue damaged in downtown Miami. (Miami Police Department)

MIAMI – Seven people were arrested Wednesday night after two statues were vandalized in downtown Miami during a protest.

The damaged Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce De Leon statues are located outside Bayside Marketplace.

According to Miami police, a group of protesters were in the area of Biscayne Boulevard and Fourth Street Wednesday when authorities saw several people spray painting the statues.

Seven people were arrested Wednesday after two statues were vandalized in downtown Miami during a protest.

“A hammer and sickle, among other things, (were) spray painted on the statues,” police said.

The suspects were arrested after authorities reviewed surveillance cameras in the area.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., condemned the incident on Twitter Thursday morning.

Police said several protesters assaulted officers while they were trying to arrest the suspects and damaged a police vehicle.

A total of seven of the protesters were arrested, police said.

Authorities said only three people were wanted for the vandalism.

“We gave the order, officers went in, arrested these three people. However, the crowd then turned on us,” Miami police Officer Michael Vega said.

The suspects arrested Wednesday were identified as Jason Lewis, 30, of Miami; Christian Diaz, 25, of Miami; Manuel Roman, 29, of Miami Beach; Edwin Guzman, 20, of Lake Worth; Alaa Ali Massri, 18, of Miami Beach; Joseph Martinez II, 28, of Miami; and Stephon Lin, 20, of Fort Worth, Texas.

They face various charges, including unlawful assembly to commit a breach of peace, resisting an officer, disorderly conduct, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, incite to riot and criminal mischief.

One of the suspects is accused of smashing a police car windshield with a skateboard and several others are accused of previously defacing property at Bayside Marketplace.

Others protesting in the area Wednesday said they came for a peaceful demonstration.

“I came here to stand in solidarity,” one protester said.

Authorities said the peaceful protesters were not arrested.

“In the City of Miami, we support peaceful protests but there will be zero tolerance for those who hide behind the peaceful protesters to incite riots, damage property, and hurt members of the public or our officers,” the police department said in a statement.

About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.