MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A New Brighton man has been charged with a felony for the toppling of the Christopher Columbus statue outside of the State Capitol earlier this summer.
Charges were filed in Ramsey County against 56-year-old Michael Forcia on Thursday, in relation to the June 10 incident.
Protesters on the scene said Columbus was responsible for Native American genocide, and it was time for the statue to go. It was part of a wave of actions against historic monuments across the country and parts of Europe that are connected to racism and slavery — spurred by protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office says that Forcia acknowledged he would be held accountable for his actions in organizing the protest. Attorney John Choi said it’s possible others might be charged as well, but said that Forcia was the main organizers behind the efforts to pull the statue down.
The complaint says that Forcia was provided with a copy of the legal process for removing monuments from the Capitol grounds, but he replied that they had gone through those processes before and intended on “taking it down today.”
Estimates on repairing the statue are estimated over $150,000.
Forcia has been charged with first-degree damage to property valued over $1,000. It carries with it a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both upon conviction.
“Given the impact of this action on residents across our state and the divisive reactions it has engendered, we believe administering justice in this case requires an extraordinary step — the active engagement and participation of our community,” Choi said.
The attorney’s office said they’re working to develop a “restorative process” that gives voice to those who hold divergent opinions, while still holding people accountable and at the same time healing the community.
Forcia is slated to make his first appearance in Ramsey County District Court on September 4.