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Pelosi renews call to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Hill

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Pelosi renews call to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Hill
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens' statue and those of 10 other Confederate leaders to be removed from Statuary Hall in the U.S Capitol. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | License Photo

June 11 (UPI) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has renewed her call to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Hill amid nationwide unrest following the police-involved killing of George Floyd.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the Joint Committee on the Library, the California Democrat asked for 11 statues depicting Confederate soldiers and officials on display in the National Statuary Hall Collection to be removed as they "pay homage to hate, not heritage."

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"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," she wrote. "They must be removed."

The statues are among 100 on display in the National Statuary Hall Collection that were donated by the 50 states "to honor persons notable in their history," the hall's website states.

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Among the 11 statues are depictions of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States, and Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederate States, both of whom were charged with treason by the U.S. government.

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"While I believe it is imperative that we never forget our history lest we repeat it, I also believe that there is no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the Confederacy in the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol or in places of honor across the country," Pelosi wrote.

Pelosi called for the statues' removal in 2017 following the death of a woman during the white supremacy Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., and she renewed call Wednesday amid widespread protests demanding racial equality and police reforms after another black man was killed by a white police officer.

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Four officers involved in Floyd's arrest have been fired from the Minneapolis police force, and Derek Chauvin, seen in video with his knee on a prostrate and handcuffed Floyd for more than eight minutes, has been charged with second-degree murder. The other former officers have been charged with aiding and abetting murder in the second degree.

The protests have amplified calls for the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces.

On Tuesday, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday announced he directed staff to remove the Confederate flag from Navy installations, ships, aircraft and submarines and expressed a willingness to rename posts christened after those of the Confederate army who fought against the United States -- a notion that President Donald Trump said he wouldn't even consider.

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"These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory and Freedom," the Republican president tweeted. "The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations."

Zoe Lofgren, House administration chairwoman and vice chairwoman of the Joint Committee on the Library, responded to Pelosi's letter later Wednesday, stating she agrees that what the statues represent is "anathema to who we are as a Congress and a country" and they should be expeditiously removed.

"I stand ready, and call on the chair of the Joint Committee to swiftly approve the removal of these statues," she wrote in a statement. "The Capitol building belongs to the American people and cannot serve as a place of honor for the hatred and racism that tears at the fabric of our nation, the very poison that these statues embody."

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