A statue of Christopher Columbus has been vandalised on the US holiday that bears his name.

The statue in Providence, Rhode island was splashed from head to toe with red paint on Monday, and a sign reading “Stop celebrating genocide” was leaned against the pedestal.

Columbus Statue Vandalized
A sign reading “stop celebrating genocide” sits at the base of a statue of Christopher Columbus (Michelle R. Smith/AP)

The word “genocide” was written in orange paint on the rear of the pedestal.

The statue has been the target of vandals on Columbus Day in the past.

The New World explorer has become a polarising figure.

Native American advocates have pressed states to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day over concerns that Columbus spurred centuries of genocide against indigenous populations in the Americas.

Police are investigating, and a spokeswoman for Mayor Jorge Elorza said the statue will be cleaned om Monday.