The Week Protesters Said Christopher Columbus Can Discover These Hands

After being pulled down by Native American activists, a man kicks the statue of Christopher Columbus as it lays face down on the ground at the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul on Jun 10, 2020.Chris Juhn / ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

Another week, another bunch of racist statues gone. This time it was Christopher Columbus, patron saint of problematic iconography, taking a tumble. On Tuesday and Wednesday, protesters pulled down a Columbus statue at the State Capitol in Minnesota, threw another one in Richmond, Virginia, into a lake, and beheaded a third in Boston. (The rest of the statue in Boston was also taken down the next day.)

Plenty of ink has been spilled correcting the record on Columbus and reminding people that he was a slaver, a murderer, and a harbinger of settler colonialism in the Americas, and the arguments against celebrating his federal holiday have caught on in recent years. Still, it is significant that two of these monuments to Columbus were brought down by Indigenous people during demonstrations organized to acknowledge anti-Indigenous racism. 

The recent protests were spurred by the killing of George Floyd and have focused on police brutality and anti-Black racism in the US, but they’ve made space to address a number of white supremacy’s sins against various peoples around the world. In toppling monuments, people are denouncing everything from the genocide of Indigenous peoples to the crimes of Leopold II in Congo.

Christopher Columbus is the ur-colonialist, the symbol of all the injustices of Western history that flowed from his first voyage in 1492. The ubiquity of his image in cities throughout the Americas is an affront to the Black and Indigenous people who have been the primary victims of his legacy. Three toppled statues are just a start.

The Columbus statues are the latest in a string of racist symbols that have been toppled, torched, occupied, or otherwise defaced in recent weeks. Read the full list here

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.