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Walz: There will be 'consequences' for those who pulled down Columbus statue

He stressed there's a need for a process to get art removed from the Capitol.

Gov. Tim Walz said there will be consequences for those involved in pulling down the Christopher Columbus statue on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds Wednesday.

"There will be consequences. This was an act of civil disobedience. The people doing it clearly understood and were prepared to take those consequences," Walz said during a news conference Thursday

It comes after the statue was pulled down on Wednesday by members of the American Indian Movement.

Walz said he doesn't condone what protesters did in removing the statue, adding later that it was a "dangerous act" and he was surprised it wasn't anchored, but stressed that people need to know what the proper steps are to get things like this removed from the Capitol. 

There is a commission that decides what artwork and monument are on display at the state Capitol. It's called the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board (CAAPB), and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan serves as the chair of it. The CAAPB Board, as it's often called, has a process for determining what art is displayed at the capitol, but Flanagan says the process isn't "well defined." 

She said the CAAPB Board, with the Minnesota Historical Society, needs to evaluate and reevaluated what is displayed at the Capitol and build a process that is "accessible, proactive, community drive and transparent." 

But those involved in the protest that pulled it down have said multiple efforts have been made in recent years to remove the statue through the appropriate channels, with no success.

Lt. Gov. Flanagan – who is Native American – wishes the removal would have been different but said: "I am not sad that it is gone." 

Flanagan said she won't "shed a tear" for the loss of a statue that honored a man who sold girls into sex slavery, later saying "There is no honor in the legacy of Christopher Columbus." 

Both Walz and Flanagan said there has to be a space where people can have these conversations about how people interpret art.

"Minnesota is ready for this conversation" about racist artwork, monuments, and the Minnesota state seal, Flanagan said.

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Why wasn't the removal stopped?

Walz said Thursday it was the Minnesota State Patrol that was in charge on the ground and made the decision not to intervene to stop the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue at the Minnesota State Capitol. 

Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said a captain in charge of Capitol Security informed him of the protest and they had 25 troopers at the Capitol. A member of the State Patrol and Department of Public Safety Native American liaison spoke with protesters, per protocol. 

"As they were having that conversation, members of the group threw a rope around the statue and pulled it off," Harrington said. 

Troopers weren't able to get out there in time to stop the statue from coming down, he noted.

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