ELIZABETH, NJ - Over 85,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the City of Elizabeth to replace the Christopher Columbus statue with one of gay rights activist and icon Marsha P. Johnson.

The petition’s goal is to reach 150,000 signatures to try to force the removal of the statue. Petition organizers argue that Columbus’s violence towards the native people he came in contact with is not something to celebrate and, instead, Johnson, an Elizabeth native and civil rights icon, should be in his place.

“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 Celine Da Silva, the petition's organizer.  

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The petition went live 2 weeks ago but began to gain a lot of traction when Johnson was honored with her own Google doodle on the last day of 2020 Pride month. 

The Christopher Columbus statue was erected in Elizabeth in October 1971 by the American Italian Organizations of Union County. Christopher Columbus also has an elementary school named for him in Elizabeth.