Senate Republicans advanced a bill Wednesday that would force Gov. Tim Walz’s administration to repair and reinstall a Christopher Columbus statue on the grounds of the Minnesota Capitol complex.
The statue, which stood outside the State Capitol building, was torn down in June in broad daylight by a group of vandals affiliated with the American Indian Movement (AIM). Mike Forcia, chairman of AIM, said he alerted Walz’s office of his plans prior to the incident.
“Rioters do not dictate the policies of our state, nor do their opinions and beliefs represent the views of every Minnesotan,” said Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, chief author of the bill.
“This is public property, and it belongs to everyone. Minnesota has clear procedures that everyone in this state needs to abide by, whether you’re on the right or the left. This legislation sends a message to those who want to do damage and cause harm that we’re not going to stand for that, and we’re not going to allow mob rule,” he added.
Ingebrigtsen presented his bill Wednesday to the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee, which advanced the bill to the Senate floor.
Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, said he opposes the bill because Columbus was “a colonizer,” a “mass murderer,” and “a rapist.”
Forcia, the man who organized the statue’s destruction, faced no fines or jail time for his actions, Alpha News previously reported. Instead, he was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service and write a letter acknowledging the damage he caused.
Forcia and his fellow activists with AIM caused an estimated $154,000 in damage to the bronze statue and its granite base, decorative eagle wings, and commemorative plaque.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan welcomed the statue’s removal in a statement issued shortly after it was pulled down.
“I can’t say I’m sad the statue of Christopher Columbus is gone. I’m not,” she said. “The arrival of Christopher Columbus to what is now the Americas set in motion centuries of violence and genocide against the Indigenous people who already lived here.”
In October, emails obtained through a public records request suggested that the Walz administration quickly decided against reinstalling the statue.
A report from a joint Senate committee claimed that the Walz administration knew protesters were coming to the Capitol building “five hours and 33 minutes before Capitol property was destroyed.”
“Minnesota state troopers arrived one hour and 19 minutes before the destruction of Capitol property, but only one state trooper was present when the destruction occurred,” said the report.