Minnesota Representative Mary Kunesh-Podein, a Democrat, says she’s tried “a bunch of times” to have Abraham Lincoln’s likeness removed from the State House Chambers and suggests that forcible destruction of the painting may be in order.
A group of vandals acting on behalf of the American Indian Movement (AIM) toppled the statue of Christopher Columbus that once stood outside the Minnesota State Capitol, Wednesday. Now, Kunesh-Podein wants to call in AIM to remove the painting of Lincoln that hangs behind the podium in the State House Chambers because some Indians were handed the death penalty under his watch.
“Hard to look at the Speaker #mnleg standing in front of Lincoln,” she said in a since-deleted tweet. “[I’ve] tried a bunch of times to get that switched out… better call AIM.”
Kunesh-Podein is correct that Lincoln did sign off on the death of 39 Dakota men convicted for leading massacres during the Dakota War of 1862. However she omitted to mention that the same military commission which convicted the 39 executed Dakotas also sentenced another 264 people to die, but Lincoln commuted those sentences despite threats of mob violence and intense pressure to let them hang, per Snopes.
The progressive state legislator also incorrectly claimed that Lincoln signed the Declaration Independence, but she later admitted that she was wrong on this point.
Kunesh-Podein’s statement appeared beneath Democrat Representative Sydney Jordan’s typo-ridden tweet that claims “our Capitol building is full of monuments to genocide,” she said.
Our Capitol building is full of monuments to genocide. From my seat on the house floor I stare at a statue that reinforces white supremacy by proclaiming “The Trail of the Pioneers Bore the Frontprints of Liberty.” This sentence is a lie.
— Sydney Jordan (@SydneyJordanMN) June 11, 2020
Specifically, she took issue with a statue a statue that reads “the trail of the pioneers bore the footprints of liberty.” This message has been a source of contention since at least 2015 when the Democrats attempted to have it removed as part of a capitol restoration project.