'Reparations' and 'rioters': Minnesota politicians are big mad about the Columbus statue


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A bronze sculpture of Christopher Columbus -- about 10 feet tall, and perched atop a red granite base of about the same height -- has been sitting outside the Minnesota State Capitol building in St. Paul since 1931.

It was conceived a few years earlier, in 1927, during a meeting of the Italian Progressive Club of Duluth. At the time, Italian immigrants were widely disparaged and discriminated against, including in Minnesota’s Iron Range. Getting a monument, and a day, dedicated to this famous Italian seemed like a good way to incorporate the Italian identity into the American identity.

At the time, the American identity had a somewhat narrower, more European bandwidth. Being accepted as “American” was also about being accepted as white. That was increasingly expanding to include immigrants like Italians and people from eastern Europe. It didn’t include, however, the people who were here before Columbus -- and consequently suffered from the colonialism, genocide, and crimes against humanity he participated in elsewhere, and that followed here.

On Wednesday, a group of protesters, some of them Dakota and Ojibwe, pulled the 10-foot Columbus off his pedestal with a rope and sent him clattering to the ground. State Patrol troopers looked on at a distance and did not interfere. The victory was celebrated with traditional song and dance. Then the remains were carted away.

Some onlookers were shocked by how quick it was.

Some were shocked we even had a statue of that guy at the Capitol at all. Like, shouldn’t we have switched that guy out for Prince at some point?

Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, herself a member of the White Earth band of Ojibwe, released a statement admitting she couldn’t claim to be sad.

“I’m not,” she said. “It was a constant reminder that our systems were not built by or for Native people or people of color, but in many cases, to exclude, erase, and eliminate us.”

Other politicians expressed their disappointment and disdain for the apparent lawlessness on display. None quite defended Columbus as a historical figure, or the need for his statue to grace the Capitol grounds. Instead they worried about "public property."

Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa), a man who once tried to ensure state actions and documents could only be presented in English, called out Flanagan’s position specifically, saying it was “sick.”

Sen. Dave Tomassoni (D-Chisholm) went as far as to suggest "reparations" be paid. (If we're keeping score, Columbus is probably so far in the hole he won't be able to discover his hand in front of his face.)

To those concerned that the elimination of the statue would eliminate Columbus's place in history, State Auditor Julie Blaha suggested there were probably more effective methods of seeking out that information than staring at a man made of bronze. Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) didn't take kindly to that. 

Former Republican Congressman Jason Lewis, a man who stood up for his right to call Madonna a slut on the air for a living, was absolutely incensed. 

So was current Rep and former admin for the COVID Memes Facebook page Mary Franson (R-Alexandria). 

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt called the people who'd pulled down Columbus "rioters," who were enabled by Gov. Tim Walz --

And wondered how it was the press knew this was coming.

(It had been posted to Facebook as a public event.)

It wouldn't be a complete roundup without a word from Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake), who believes an event in which nobody except a 10-foot bronze colonizer was hurt sets a "dangerous precedent."

But we'll leave you with by far and away the broadest stroke being used to paint this incident, which comes not from Minnesota but from Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who referred to the protestors as, and we quote: