CAMDEN — Protesters weren't gong to let Christopher Columbus get away unscathed.

A demonstration planned for Saturday to protest the monument of the European explorer seemed to be preempted Thursday when city workers arrived at Farnham Park to remove the statue.

When protesters got word, they descended on the community park and used a sledgehammer to smash and behead the statue before workers could cart it away.

City spokesman Vince Basara told the Cherry Hill Courier-Post a decision was made earlier in the week to take the statue down on Thursday afternoon. Basara declined to comment on whether city officials had made a deal with protesters to wait for Saturday's demonstration before removing the statue.

NBC Philadelphia reported that protesters blocked a truck taking the statue away.

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In a written statement, Mayor Frank Moran said there have been requests to remove the "controversial symbol," which he called "long overdue.”

"It's presence has long pained the resident of the community," Moran said.

He said that a plan must be established to remove “outdated symbols of racial division and injustices.”

Concerns that Columbus spurred genocide against indigenous populations in the Americas bubbled over this week during protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and renewed demands that Confederate and racist monuments be removed from public spaces. In Richmond, Virginia, a statue of Columbus was thrown into a lake. Another was beheaded in Boston's North End neighborhood.

(Includes material copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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