The toppling of the Christopher Columbus statue by activists earlier this month has kicked-started a push for an official process to remove a monument from the State Capitol grounds.
But there’s always been a process in place to add monuments, one that’s also getting renewed attention as activists eye something new where Columbus once stood.
During his 32 years at the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board, Paul Mandell has heard plenty of suggestions for new monuments: Paul Wellstone, congresswoman Coya Knutson, legislator and environmental activist Willard Munger.
Someone once suggested British-American entertainer Bob Hope deserved a permanent place outside of the Minnesota Capitol.
“Has he even been to Minnesota?” Mandell asked at the time.
There are guiding rules in place: Does the person hold statewide significance, have they been dead at least 10 years, and can the person pitching the monument help raise the cash to pay for it?
Many failed to pass those standards over the years, including a new idea circulating: Replace Columbus with a statue of Prince. Unfortunately for fans, he’s only been dead since 2016.
And, Mandell notes, just because Columbus has been removed doesn’t mean he won’t return. Those conversations have started as well.