Nancy Pelosi and Democratic lawmakers are ramping up calls to get rid of Confederate statues on display in the halls of Congress, bringing the debate over Civil War symbols across the South to Capitol Hill.
Nearly 10 Confederate-era figures are memorialized in the U.S. Capitol, each sponsored by a state. Mississippi displays Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, in Statuary Hall, for example. Virginia displays Gen. Robert E. Lee in the Capitols crypt.
There is no room for observing the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy in the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol or in places of honour Throughout the Nation, House Minority Leader Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday.
But even as many cities consider taking down monuments in the aftermath of the Charlottesville violence in a white supremacist rally, the Democrat-led effort on Capitol Hill faces odds of success.
The 100 total statues on display are part of the National Statuary Hall Collection and arent chosen by Congress. Each state contributes two figurines, chosen by their state governments, according to the Architect of the Capitol.
These are choices for those states Doug Andres, a spokesman for Speaker Paul Ryan, told Fox News.
One Democrat suggests he wants to change that.
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, considered to be mulling a potential run for president in 2020, said Wednesday he intends to introduce a bill to remove the statues from the Capitol building.
This is just 1 step, Booker tweeted. We have work to do.
On Thursday, tourists packed into the halls of the Capitol on a hot August afternoon to see the monuments. Standing in Statuary Hall from the Jefferson Davis statue, one Capitol tour guide, wearing the coat that was customary, informed one tour group about the latest calls to remove a few of the statues.
So we will see, the guide told the group.
The tourists who visited the Capitol on Thursday expressed varying opinions about the proposal.
They shouldnt be eliminated. Its part of history, if you like it or not, said Gary Kincaid, 82, of Sedona, Ariz..
Its time to make a change was said by others.
It probably shouldnt have been allowed to be put up anyway, said Mark Armstrong, 54, an Illinois resident who is retired from the Army.
Speaking of the Confederates memorialized by the statues, Armstrong, who is black, said: I mean, they seceded from the Union. Its being a traitor.
Another tourist away from the Capitol said he didnt feel strongly one way or the other about the issue, but he appreciated both sides of the debate.
Its tough to say, ” said Damian, who declined to give his last name. Its part of our history, but its part of our history people arent proud of.
Earlier this week, Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz called on her state to eliminate its statue of Confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith in the Capitol.
It is time for Florida lawmakers to call a special session to substitute Florida’s Confederate statue in our nation’s Capitol, Wasserman Schultz said.
Other Confederates memorialized in the Capitol include: Alexander Stephens (Georgia), Joseph Wheeler (Alabama), James Z. George (Mississippi), Wade Hampton III (South Carolina), and Zebulon Baird Vance (North Carolina).
Following the 2015 mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, S.C., Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie G. Thompson unsuccessfully pushed legislation to remove Confederate imagery from the Capitol. This week, he renewed his call.
Memorabilia don’t have any place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol, Thompson said. These pictures symbolize a period of discrimination and segregation that continues to haunt this country and many African-Americans who still to this day confront racism and bigotry.
President Trump on Thursday tweeted his displeasure with the recent push to remove Confederate symbols.
Sad to see the history and culture of the nation being torn apart with the elimination of our beautiful statues and monuments, Trump said. You can learn from it, although you can not change history.
The president made a slippery slope argument, asking: Who’s next, Washington, Jefferson?
RICHMOND MAYOR WANTS CONFEDERATE STATUES ON MONUMENT AVENUE REMOVED
The push has accelerated in recent days following a rally of white supremacists, protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, turned violent in Charlottesville last weekend. Since then, politicians in a number of states including Virginia, Kentucky and Maryland have called for the elimination of statues.
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