More than 24,000 people have signed an online petition to replace a statue of Christopher Columbus in Elizabeth, N.J., with one of Marsha P. Johnson, an LGBTQ activist who was born there.
“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,” wrote Celine De Silva, the organizer of the Change.org petition, which had nearly reached its goal of 25,000 signatures as of Monday afternoon.
Johnson, a black trans woman, was a central figure in the 1969 Stonewall uprisings in New York. She also helped found the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a group that housed homeless and transgender youth, with fellow activist Sylvia Rivera.
De Silva wrote that Columbus, whose history of slavery and genocide has come under renewed focus amid ongoing protests against racial inequality, “is not a figure to be celebrated."
The Hill has reached out to Elizabeth, N.J., Mayor Christian Bollwage (D) about the petition.
Earlier this year, New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoTrump cheers CNN's Cuomo suspension CNN suspends Chris Cuomo indefinitely Meghan McCain calls for CNN to fire Cuomo MORE (D) said the East River State Park, located in Brooklyn, would be renamed after Johnson. It is the first New York state park to be named after an LGBTQ person.
Statues of Columbus have been targeted by activists in multiple cities across the country, as have those of Confederate leaders and others associated with slavery or white supremacy.
Cuomo has declined to call for the removal of a statue of Columbus in New York City, calling it a representation of the “Italian American legacy.”
Two other statues of Columbus have recently been removed from New Jersey cities, specifically West Orange and Camden, according to NJ.com.