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Capitol Hill grappling with Confederate statues and tributes to racists

July 1, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: A statue of Joseph Wheeler (3rd R), a cavalry general in the Confederate States Army during the Civil War and member of the House of Representatives, is on display in Statuary Hall inside the U.S. Capitol June 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has requested that Congress remove this statue and 10 others of Confederate soldiers and officials from the U.S. Capitol "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. 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," Pelosi wrote in the letter addressed to committee Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Vice Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

With symbols of the nation's painful past coming down across the country, under the dome of one of the most revered buildings in the nation -- the US Capitol -- still sit more than a dozen tributes to Confederate soldiers, officials and known racists.

These statues are sprinkled throughout Capitol Hill -- many of them in the prestigious Statuary Hall on the House side of the US Capitol, in the Crypt or the Capitol Visitor Center -- all places where typically thousands of tour groups and members of Congress walk by daily.

During her first term as House speaker, Nancy Pelosi had a statue of Lee moved from a place of honor in Statuary Hall to the Capitol Crypt, a location of less distinction.

It is up to the states to choose two statues they'd like to display on Capitol Hill.

They committed treason against the United States of America, and their statues are still here because their states put them there," Pelosi said earlier this month.

For years, a group of Democratic lawmakers have advocated for new legislation to remove the Confederate statues.

"We cannot separate the Confederate statues from this history and legacy of white supremacy in this country," Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat who introduced the Senate version of legislation, said on the Senate floor earlier this month.

"In Maryland we made the decision to remove a statue of Taney from the State House grounds, reflecting his shameful contribution to the evil system of slavery and its defense, and we ought to do the same here," Hoyer said.

Pelosi has called for the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library -- the committee that oversees the Statuary Hall collection as well as other fine art in the Capitol -- to direct the Architect of the Capitol to immediately take steps to remove the statues.

I'd also like to see what other states have in mind, as they are part of this agreement," Blunt said earlier this month, when he blocked Booker's legislation to remove the statues on the Senate floor.

Beyond the statues

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