Minnesotans want a statue of Prince, not Christopher Columbus

Petition to swap out the statue has nearly 2,000 signatures.

At a time when statues and memorials of Confederate leaders are coming down across the United States, a group of Minnesotans has decided it's time for another controversial monument to go: the Columbus statue in St. Paul.

The group of citizens led by community organizer Wintana Melekin have created a petition to remove the Columbus statue outside the Minnesota State Capitol. 

But they aren't just petitioning to say peace out to Columbus – they want to see the statue replaced with someone who "represents Minnesota values." 

Someone who has a rich history with the state and communities of color. Someone whose music and philanthropy transcend generations. Someone who makes Minnesotans proud of where they're from. 

Yep, we're talking about our one and only: Prince.

"Across the nation, city governments are choosing to remove statues of white supremacists, slave owners, and those who threatened the livelihood of Black people. Here in Minnesota, communities are reigniting the demand to bring down state’s monument to Christopher Columbus, a man who murdered, raped and enslaved Black and Native peoples in the Americas. We, the undersigned, do not believe that Columbus represents the values Minnesotans carry. Rather than glorify a man who wanted to extinguish Black and Native peoples, we should honor members of our community whose leadership we find inspirational," the petition states.

It seems to be resonating with Minnesotans – as of Sunday afternoon, the petition had nearly reached its goal of 2,000 signatures

"Did Christopher Columbus drop a 13x platinum album? No. No he did not," one signer pointed out.

Once the petition meets its goal, it'll be presented to Gov. Mark Dayton.

History of controversy

This isn't the first time Minnesotans have taken issue with Columbus' legacy.

In 2015, demonstrators rallied outside the Capitol for the removal of the statue, which they said celebrated genocide. 

And some Minnesota cities have been disassociating from Columbus in recent years. 

Minneapolis and St. Paul celebrate "Indigenous Peoples Day" instead of Columbus Day, joining a growing number of U.S. cities that have reclaimed the holiday for Native Americans. Red Wing renamed it Chief Red Wing Day.

On the other hand, some Americans are questioning where we draw the line when it comes to removing historical monuments.

"By taking monuments down or hiding them away, we facilitate forgetting," Alfred Brophy, a law professor at the University of Alabama told MPR. "It purchases absolution too inexpensively. There is a value in owning our history."

Why Prince?

Watch The Yard asked Melekin why she thinks Prince would be a good alternative to Columbus.

“I spend a lot of time at our State Capitol. It’s a space that already does not feel inviting or inclusive to communities of color. So to see Columbus every day in front of the building does not make it feel more welcoming. So I put the petition together because I wanted to see someone, Prince, at the capitol because he represents a part of Minnesota that we are all proud of,” she stated.

Melekin has already had success in the past with another petition, Watch The Yard says. She helped make May 23 "Beyoncé Day" in Minnesota.

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