Protesters tear down Christopher Columbus statue outside State Capitol

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Wednesday afternoon, protesters tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus outside the Minnesota State Capitol.

American Indian Movement (AIM) planned the rally to remove the statue, which state officials said just hours earlier that they were aware of but were hoping it could be peacefully resolved.

Timeline: Columbus statue torn down by protesters 90 minutes after vow to protect

While a couple of Minnesota State Patrol troopers were at the scene, a KSTP crew reports law enforcement offered little resistance as protesters pulled the statue down.

According to the state, the 10-foot tall bronze statue was gifted to the state on Oct. 12, 1931, from Minnesota's Italian-Americans.

Gov. Tim Walz released the following statement Wednesday night:

"As a former social studies teacher, I taught my students that many Minnesotans look at that statue and see a legacy of genocide. Now more than ever, we must take a hard look at the dated symbols and injustices around us. The Minnesota Historical Society and the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board have a formal process to remove statues from the Capitol grounds, and it’s important that process is followed in order to ensure the safety of bystanders and the preservation of surrounding property. While that process was too long for those who were pained by the statue’s presence, that is not an excuse for them to take matters into their own hands and remove it in that fashion. Even in pain, we must work together to make change, lawfully. I encourage Minnesotans to have productive, peaceful conversations about the changes that need to be made to create a more inclusive state."

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan also issued a statement Wednesday night:

"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.

"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. As the highest-ranking Native woman elected to executive office in the country, I have often reflected on the fact that I could see a statue honoring that legacy from my office window. 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. Tonight, I’m thinking of all the Native children who might now feel more welcome on the grounds and in the halls of their state government."

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