By Declan Leary
In the general chaos of the summer of 2020, it was a typical moment. At the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, a band of activists—primarily from indigenous-rights groups—had slung ropes around the neck of a statue of Christopher Columbus and pulled it down by force.
The moment meant different things to different people. For the woke left, it was another culture war victory in the age of 1619 and BLM—a small and long-delayed comeuppance for the colonial oppressors. For the right, it was the latest advance in the onslaught of the cultural arsonists—as cities were burning and statues falling down, it seemed that little would survive the spontaneous rage inspired by the death of George Floyd in that same city just two weeks before.
But it was hardly spontaneous, and it had little (if anything) to do with the death of Mr. Floyd. The destruction of the Columbus statue on the Capitol grounds—installed by Italian immigrants in 1931 as a pushback against discrimination—had long been an explicit goal of the region’s American Indian activists. The eruption of riots in the early summer simply provided an excuse. As destruction reigned, Twin Cities native activists decided to join in, taking the opportunity to follow through on something they had wanted to do for decades.
It’s actually fairly representative of what happened in major cities across the country this summer: local activists had an axe to grind, and the superimposition of a national narrative gave them all the cover they could ever need. (Any outburst of disorder that happens to have occurred after late May is qualified in the media as a “protest following the death of George Floyd”—a carefully crafted non-descriptor.) It’s representative, too, of the interplay among the unholy trinity of the modern activist left: grassroots radicals, big-money donors, and the big money itself—concentrated in funds where the donor foundations invest their dollars.
The St. Paul statue-toppling was organized by a man named Mike Forcia, a member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Forcia is also the chairman of the Twin Cities branch of the American Indian Movement (AIM), and of AIM Patrol.
AIM—the most prominent network of indigenous activists in the country—is commonly billed as a grassroots organization. In some ways this is true. AIM was founded in Minneapolis more than half a century ago, as the Indian Relocation Act of 1956 and other federal policies geared toward assimilation created sizable urban communities of Indians drawn away from reservations. Over the years, much of AIM’s public profile has been shaped by scattered bands of activists engaging in highly visible stunts, such as the occupation of Alcatraz from 1969 to 1971.
Even today, the national network remains fairly decentralized—sometimes ostentatiously so. After Forcia’s arrest, AIM’s national president Frank Paro “was adamant that the rally was not sanctioned by A.I.M. or associated with the organization,” according to court documents. Paro even went so far as to assert “that Mr. Forcia is not affiliated with the National AIM organization”—an interesting …read more
Via:: American Conservative
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