Nearly 80,000 people have called upon officials to remove a statue of Christopher Columbus removed and replaced with LGBT+ icon, Marsha P Johnson.
A petition to the City Of Elizabeth, New Jersey, US, is calling for the removal of a statue of Christopher Columbus widely credited to have discovered the Americas. However, as the petition points out the land was already occupied by indigenous groups.
The petition continues,
“Many believe celebrating Columbus is glorifying European colonialism. Columbus is not a figure to be celebrated, as he enslaved and killed the Taíno.
“Him and his men also sexually abused Taíno women and girls, some as young as 9 years old. He was even arrested in his own time for crimes he committed against Spanish colonists, which included flogging and executions without trial.”
Instead the petitioners have suggested that the statue be replaced by Stonewall Riot icon, Marsha P Johnson, who was born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
“We should commemorate Marsha P. Johnson for the incredible things she did in her lifetime and for the inspiration she is to members of the LGBT+ community worldwide, especially black trans women,” said petition starter, Celine Da Silva.
This petition comes during the 51st anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots (June 28 – July 3), a series of riot demonstrations by members of the gay community in response to the discrimination and raids by police in New York City. These important events were a catalyst to the first gay pride marches in the US Johnson was a key figure in the Stonewall Uprising and movement.
The call to replace the statue joins a growing movement of racial justice petitions that advocate for the removal of names on buildings and statues that represent a cynical and racist past.