Politics

‘The Time For Being Complacent Is Over’: American Indian Activists Tear Down Columbus Statue At Minnesota State Capitol 

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

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A group of protesters dismantled a statue of Christopher Columbus on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds, state police said.

The protesters wrapped a rope around the statue, pulled it from its base, then danced around it and spit on it, Fox 9 in St. Paul reported. Troopers attempted to speak with the group earlier in the day, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Wednesday.

“I said I can have a group of guys down here and we can have it down in a half hour. [They said] ‘No you can’t do it that way, that’s not the way we want to do it.’ So I figured, okay, we’ll do it your way,” said Mike Forcia, a member of the American Indian Movement, Fox 9 reported.

However, on Wednesday Forcia said that “the time for being complacent is over.”

Columbus statues have been removed or damaged during protests nationwide following George Floyd’s death. Floyd died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, video showed.

“This has been an ongoing conversation that we’ve been having for years with people who occupy this building [referencing the capitol]. It’s always ‘you got to wait; there’s a process you got to go through,'” Forcia said.

The American Indian Movement is an advocacy group that organized the rally at the state capitol, according to Fox 9.

Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has shown support for removing the statue, but wants to approach it through the “proper process,” Forcia said, adding that the group is “tired of being stonewalled,” so members will take “matters into their own hands.”

“I hear it get pushed off as ‘frivolous’ or ‘political correctness, these are historical pains that led to what we saw happen with George Floyd and the anger that came out,” Walz said on Wednesday.

Walz said he “understands the impact that the symbolism of the statue can have on people.” (RELATED: Protesters Topple, Behead Christopher Columbus Statues In Richmond And Boston)

After the statue was dismantled, troopers enclosed on the pedestal before Forcia asked the crowd to allow the state to remove the statue with the help of a tow truck, Fox 9 reported.

When the Minnesota State Patrol arrived, Forcia said he would be charged with criminal damage to property, Fox 9 reported.

“I wear it as a badge of honor. I’m happy we did it. No regrets whatsoever,” Forcia said.

Walz said when he was a teacher, he taught his students that many Minnesotans see the Columbus statue as a “legacy of genocide,” and that it is time to take a “hard look at the dated symbols and injustices around us,” Fox 9 reported.

Still, he criticized the removal of the statue and said protesters could have gone through the formal process.

“Even in pain, we must work together to make change, lawfully. I encourage Minnesotans to have productive, peaceful conversations about the changes that need to be made to create a more inclusive state,” Walz said.

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