Activists have torn down a large bronze statue of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus near the Minnesota State Capitol. Though police had vowed to protect the monument, officers left the scene just in time for its destruction.
The 10-foot statue was pulled from its base on Wednesday afternoon by a group of several dozen protesters outside the capitol in St. Paul, led by Native American activist Mike Forcia, local media reported. The incident was captured on video, showing a small crowd cheering as the statue was brought down.
“It was the right thing to do and it was the right time to do it,” Forcia, told Reuters, apparently referring to ongoing protests across dozens of American cities over police brutality and racism, sparked by the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in late May.
While state troopers told a local reporter that they would be there to guard the monument – and Forcia even informed officers present of his intention to destroy it once he arrived – police did little to intervene, only advising the protesters of the formal process to see a statue removed before leaving the area altogether. The troopers returned later, however, with Forcia stating he was told that he would be arrested in the coming days and charged with criminal destruction.
After the incident, city workers removed the statue, whose granite base was completely destroyed. Created by sculptor Carlo Brioschi, the monument was dedicated to the city as a gift on behalf of Minnesota’s Italian-Americans in 1931, according to a government website.
The statue is not the first to fall victim to outraged activists in recent days, with another Columbus sculpture brought down in Richmond, Virginia on Tuesday, where protesters vandalized the remains of the monument and tossed them into a nearby lake. A similar incident also unfolded in Boston earlier on Wednesday.
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