A group of protesters, led by members of the Twin Cities branch of the American Indian Movement (AIM), tore down a Christopher Columbus statue in St. Paul, Minnesota yesterday, June 10. It is the latest statue of the Italian explorer, arguably the world’s most famous colonizer, to be toppled across the country.
Videos posted online show the protesters tightening a rope around the 10-foot bronze statue outside the State Capitol and pulling it off its granite pedestal. Later on, they performed a song around the felled monument.
“It was the right thing to do and it was the right time to do it,” Mike Forcia, an AIM member, told Reuters.
Earlier this week, protesters in Richmond, Virginia toppled a Columbus statue in the city’s Byrd Park, set it on fire with an American flag, and drowned it in a nearby lake. And in Boston, protesters severed the head of a Columbus statue in the city’s South End days after it was doused in red paint.
New York City has its own Columbus statue, placed in Central Park. During a press briefing today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo opposed removing the statute, saying it “represents the Italian American legacy in this country.”
But to many, monuments for Columbus are symbols of genocide. In another interview with WCCO radio in Minneapolis, Forcia said that the Indigenous community has been protesting the statue for 20 years and that it had attempted to remove it through official channels but “the process took too long.”
“This country’s foundation is built on sin, greed, corruption, genocide, and slavery,” Forcia told WCCO. “When you have a foundation built like that, it’s going to crumble. And we see it crumble before our eyes now.”