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MN lawmaker compares removal of Columbus statue to 'lynching'

State Rep. Steve Drazkowski represents House District 21B.

A state lawmaker is receiving backlash over his comments about the recent removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in St. Paul.

During a Friday hearing, state Rep. Steve Drazkowski compared the takedown of the statue — which stood on the grounds of the capitol — to a lynching.

As you can see in the above video, Drazkowski calls the act, committed by members of the American Indian Movement on Wednesday, a "lynching-like desecration."

The comment has drawn sharp criticism on social media, including from Elise Diesslin, who's running for Drazkowski's seat in the legislature.

In a tweet, she vowed not to "use the term ‘lynching’ to describe a dethroned statue":

Condemnation also came from state House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (see above tweet), who called the comparison "an ugly insult to the memory of George Floyd" — for whom the legislature had just dedicated 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence, per KARE 11's John Croman.  

Meanwhile, Matt Wagenius, spokesperson for Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman, pointed out that the remark came the same day Gov. Tim Walz pardoned Max Mason, a black circus performer connected to the 1920 Duluth lynchings. 

Three of Mason's fellow circus workers were killed in that lynching, while Mason himself was the only person to be convicted over the rape accusation that triggered the killing. 

More lawmaker gaffes

Drazkowski was not the only state lawmaker to end the week with a verbal misstep.

On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R) met with social media mockery after commenting that he had encountered "people with names he had never heard before“ while touring Minneapolis neighborhoods following the death of George Floyd:

Earlier this month, the aforementioned Ryan Winkler, a DFLer, was criticized by Gov. Walz for tweeting misinformation about the truck driver who drove through a George Floyd protest on the I-35 — specifically, suggesting that the man was a white supremacist who acted deliberately:  

Earlier this year, Winkler apologized after he was caught on camera giving the middle finger to Sen. Scott Jensen (R-Chaska) during a press conference. 

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