House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to remove the “reprehensible” Confederate statues from the Capitol “immediately.”
“The halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy,” her statement on Thursday read. “The statutes in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation.”
The “violent bigotry” of those men honored in Congress should be rid from the Capitol, Pelosi demanded, “if Republicans are serious about rejecting white supremacy.”
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) August 17, 2017
Pelosi’s request comes after fellow Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi called on lawmakers in both parties “to work with me to ensure the permanent removal of all offensive and despicable Confederate imagery” from the Capitol, Politico reported.
“Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol,” Thompson said in a statement. “These images symbolize a time of racial discrimination and segregation that continues to haunt this country and many African-Americans who still to this day face racism and bigotry.”
Each state can choose two figures to honor, according to the Architect of the Capitol. Of the 100 statues, 35 are located in National Statuary Hall and 13 are in the crypt, representing the 13 original colonies. The 10 that depict Confederate figures hail from nine states: Georgia, Florida, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
Georgia, for instance, chose Alexander Hamilton Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy, a member of Congress in the Reconstruction Era, and governor for less than half a year. Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, was selected by Mississippi in 1931.
Ryan’s office responded to Pelosi’s statement. “These are decisions for those states to make,” said Doug Andres, spokesman for Ryan.
State legislators can select replacements which must be approved by the governor and the Joint Committee on the Library. Congress does still maintain authority to order the removal of statues through appropriate legislation, but that would currently require Republican support which does not seem likely, given Ryan’s position.
In addition to Pelosi and Thompson, Rep. Dessbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) tweeted that her state’s lawmakers “should call a special session to replace” the statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith in the Hall.
It’s time for Florida lawmakers to call a special session to replace Florida’s Confederate statue in our nation’s Capitol.
— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) August 15, 2017
These public statements represent a wave of similar requests after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly last weekend.
Pelosi also wrote in her statement that with Democrats leading Congress, “we have recognized more women and people of color … including Rosa Parks,” a statue of that currently stands where a statue of Robert E. Lee — now in the crypt — once stood.
Guidelines from the Architect of the Capitol require statues in the official collection to depict a deceased U.S. citizen “illustrious for historic renown or for distinguished civic or military services.”
Source: Conservative Daily