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Democratic Lawmakers Seek Removal of Confederate Statues

President Donald Trump had on Thursday lamented the removal of monuments and statues of Confederate Generals across the US, saying it makes him "sad" to see the history and culture of America being ripped apart.

PTI

Updated:August 18, 2017, 8:16 AM IST
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Democratic Lawmakers Seek Removal of Confederate Statues
The statue of Confederate General Thomas Stonewall Jackson stands at the West Virginia State Capitol Complex in Charleston. (Image: Ty Wright/Getty Images)
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Washington: Top Democratic lawmakers led by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have called for the removal of Confederate statues from the US Capitol.

President Donald Trump had on Thursday lamented the removal of monuments and statues of Confederate Generals across the US, saying it makes him "sad" to see the history and culture of America being ripped apart.

Lamenting the presence of such statues, Democratic leader Pelosi said, "There is no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy in the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol or in places of honour across the country."

"The halls of Congress are the very heart of the US democracy. The statues in the Capitol should embody the highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation," she said.

Pelosi called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to join the Democrats in supporting legislation to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol.

"The Confederate statues in the halls of Congress have always been reprehensible. If Republicans are serious about rejecting white supremacy, I call upon Speaker Ryan to join Democrats to remove the Confederate statues from the Capitol immediately," Pelosi said.

Pelosi said under the leadership of Democrats in the Congress, they have recognised more women and people of colour in Congress's collection of statues, including Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth and Helen Keller.

"As Speaker, we relocated Robert E Lee out of a place of honour in National Statuary Hall a place now occupied by the statue of Rosa Parks," she said.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton called on House and Senate leaders to create a special committee in Congress to encourage States with statues of confederate figures to take advantage of a federal law that allows states to replace their statues for any reason.

There are 12 Confederate statues in the Statuary Hall Collection from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Norton said that the special committee could help states follow in the footsteps of Alabama, which has already replaced one of its statues of a Confederate soldier with one of Helen Keller, and of Florida, which is working to replace its statue of a Confederate general with a more appropriate alternative.

Each of the 50 states has two statues that are representative of their home states, and the District of Columbia has one.

Congressman Tim Ryan said statues of Confederates or Confederate sympathisers have no place in the Halls of Congress and should be removed immediately.

"Taking down monuments of confederate leaders and sympathisers is not erasing history; it is taking a stand against the glorification of those who fought to end our nation as we know it for the purpose of subjugating an entire race of people," Ryan said.

Congressmen Adriano Espaillat and Dwight Evans introduced a legislation to prohibit Federal funds from being used to create, maintain, or display, as applicable, any Confederate symbol on Federal public land, including any highway, park, subway, Federal building, military base, street, or other Federal property.

There are at least 1,503 remaining symbols of the Confederacy in public spaces, including 109 public schools named after prominent Confederates, many with large African- American student populations; more than 700 Confederate monuments and statues on public property throughout the country, the vast majority in the South that include 96 monuments in Virginia, 90 in Georgia, and 90 in North Carolina.

Additionally, there are 17 US military bases named in honour of Confederate military leaders.

"These hateful symbols are a constant reminder of what our ancestors endured. No federal funding should be utilised for any Confederate symbol on Federal public lands. If we want our nation to heal and move forward, we must remove these abhorrent symbols at once," said Congressman Dwight Evans.

A Republican lawmaker also joined the anti-confederate statue call.

"When they're in the Capitol, they're almost in a place of reverence. And I don't think that we should revere what those guys stood for. I think the right side won the war," Congressman Tom Rooney told The Hill in an interview.

"If the context was right in describing who he was and what he was fighting for, so people understand that he was fighting to keep slavery as part of this country I guess as long as it's put in context but I don't like the site of the one in Charlottesville where he's way up on a pedestal, literally," he said.
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