House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is ready to see 11 statues depicting Confederate soldiers and officials removed from the U.S. Capitol. On Wednesday, the congresswoman from California sent a letter to the Joint Committee on the Library calling on its leadership to support legislation in favor of eliminating the historically tainted figures.
“The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation,” Pelosi wrote. “Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to these ideals. Their statues pay homage to hate, not heritage. They must be removed.”
Heightened racial tensions have sparked renewed interest in removing Confederate statues. Following the death of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police with a knee to his neck, protests have popped up across the nation calling for police reform and the dismantling of systemic oppression. Pelosi first brought forth the legislation in 2017, asking then Speaker Paul Ryan to support the removal of the statues.
Over the past two weeks, a number of statues have been removed from sites in the United States. A statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was brought down in Richmond, Virginia. Four others were beheaded in the former capital of the Confederacy along with a sculpture of Christopher Columbus. The likeness of Confederate Navy Captain Charles Linn was also torn apart in Birmingham, Alabama. And on June 1, students in Montgomery toppled a statue of Robert E. Lee, for whom their school is named. These are just a few.
CNN reports that GOP Senator Roy Blount, who chairs the Joint Committee on the Library, was asked about the statues on Wednesday. He asserted that it was up to the states to decide what would happen to the people they’ve chosen to honor in Sanctuary Hall.
As the committee continues to deliberate on the issue, protesters have promised to continue pushing for their removal.