Over 2,000 people signed a petition to replace the Christopher Columbus statue at the State Capitol building in St. Paul, Minnesota with a statue of the seven time Grammy Award-winning singer Prince.

Community organizer Wintana Melekin created a petition to replace the Columbus statue with a Minnesota icon and Purple Rain singer Prince. The petition, titled “Replace Columbus Statue with a Prince Statue and One Chosen by the Native Community,” is addressed to Governor Dayton and the State Legislature of Minnesota.  

“Across the nation, city governments are choosing to remove statues of white supremacists, slave owners, and those who threatened the livelihood of Black people. Here in Minnesota, communities are reigniting the demand to bring down state’s monument to Christopher Columbus, a man who murdered, raped and enslaved Black and Native peoples in the Americas. We, the undersigned, do not believe that Columbus represents the values Minnesotans carry. Rather than glorify a man who wanted to extinguish Black and Native peoples, we should honor members of our community whose leadership we find inspirational,” the petition’s description read.

Under the question, “Why is this important?” Melekin wrote, “Prince represents Minnesota values and Columbus does not.”

“I spend a lot of time at our State Capitol. It’s a space that already does not feel inviting or inclusive to communities of color. So to see Columbus every day in front of the building does not make it feel more welcoming,” Melekin said to Watch the Yard. “So I put the petition together because I wanted to see someone, Prince, at the capitol because he represents a part of Minnesota that we are all proud of.”

One of Melekin’s previous petitions was successful. She was a key figure in making May 23 Beyonce Day in Minnesota. The petition to remove the Christopher Columbus statue in St. Paul comes at a time when Confederate statues and monuments are being removed nationwide, but this is not the first time Minnesotans have had a problem with the statue. In 2015, protesters gathered outside the Capitol asking the statue be removed because it represented genocide. Other cities in Minnesota have taken steps to erase Columbus’s legacy--with Minneapolis and St. Paul celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day.

“The replacement of Columbus is about the deep history of white supremacy and colonialism in the United States and the need for Minnesota to lead the country in this moment. Plus we all know Prince is a genius and who wouldn’t pick him over Columbus anyway,” Melekin said. “I’m not sure how likely we are to win this replacement campaign, but it seems obvious at the moment we in Minnesota should just go ahead and make this happen.”