SAINT PAUL, Minnesota, June 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The statue of Christopher Columbus in Saint Paul that protesters ripped down earlier this month should be restored to public view, says the public policy office for Minnesota’s Catholic bishops.
Activists led by members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) used ropes to topple the 10-foot bronze statue of Columbus in the state Capitol from its granite pedestal on June 10, reported the Minnesota Reformer.
Protestors then danced around the statue singing and drumming.
It came down super easy pic.twitter.com/os2owP6OWP
— Max Nesterak (@maxnesterak) June 10, 2020
The helmeted state troopers responsible for security at the Capitol stood at a distance and did not try to stop the vandalism, which came in the wake of nationwide riots and demonstrations sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd, reported TwinCities Pioneer Press.
The protesters included Dakota and Ojibwe Indians, who said they see Columbus as a symbol of genocide against Native Americans, and that they made many attempts to remove the statue by legitimate means to no avail, that outlet reported.
“For healing to happen, this needed to happen,” said Mike Forcia, chairman of the Twin Cities American Indian Movement and a member of the Bad River Band of Ojibwe. “It was here for far too long. It’s a slap in the face to all Native people and all people of color.”
No one was arrested during or after the incident, but state troopers told Forcia he could be arrested in a few days on charges of destroying public property, Reuters reported.
Minnesota’s Democrat Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe and the highest ranking native woman elected to executive office, said in a statement that the arrival of Columbus “set in motion centuries of violence and genocide against the Indigenous people who already lived here.”
Added Flanagan: “I can’t say I’m sad the statue of Christopher Columbus is gone. I’m not… . All Minnesotans should feel welcome at the Minnesota State Capitol, and our state is long overdue for a hard look at the symbols, statues and icons that were created without the input of many of our communities.”
But Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC), has a different view.
LifeSiteNews asked Archbishop of Minneapolis and Saint Paul Bernard Hebda for a comment on the incident, and his office forwarded the request to the MCC, which is the “public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota,” according to its website.
Hebda is the MCC’s president, and its members are seven active and three retired bishops of Minnesota.