Statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy during the Civil War, stands in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol on August 17, 2017. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | License Photo
June 11 (UPI) -- Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have reintroduced a bill to remove Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial inequality that erupted following the police-involved killing of George Floyd.
Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., reintroduced the bill, known as the Confederate Monument Removal Act, on Thursday to remove all statues representing people who voluntarily served the Confederacy from the National Statuary Hall Collection within 120 days.
Eleven statues depicting Confederate soldiers and officials 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.
Of the 11 in question, two 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.
"Americans in all 50 states and millions of people around the world are marching to protest racism and police violence directed at people of color, and yet across the country, Confederate statues and monuments still pay tribute to white supremacy and slavery in public spaces," Lee said in a statement announcing the bill's reintroduction. "It is time to tell the truth about what these statues are: hateful symbols that have no place in our society and certainly should not be enshrined in the U.S. Capitol."
Lee first introduced the bill with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in September 2017 following the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., that resulted in the death of a woman.
"The National Statuary Hall is intended to honor American patriots who served, sacrificed or made tremendous contributions to our nation," Booker said at that time. "Those who committed treason against the United States of America and led our nation into its most painful and bloody war are not patriots and should not be afforded such a rare honor in this sacred space."
The bill's reintroduction came a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., sent a letter to the Joint Committee on the Library calling for the statues' removal.
"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 letter was also a renewed call from Pelosi as she had demanded the statues be removed following the Charlottesville rally.
Protests nationwide following the late May killing of Floyd -- a black man who died after being pinned to the ground by the knee of a white officer against the back of his neck for more than eight minutes -- have reinvigorated calls for the removal of Confederate statues, monuments, flags and symbols from public spaces.
In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam has moved to remove a Confederate statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee from a Richmond monument. In the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday directed staff to remove confederate flags from all installations and that he is willing to strip the names of Confederate army soldiers from bases -- a move President Donald Trump said he wouldn't allow.
"My administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations," Trump said Wednesday in a tweet.
Concerning the removal of statues from Capitol Hill, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that decision should be up to the states that donated them.
"The states make that decision," he told reporters. "I think the appropriate way to deal with this issue is to stick with the tradition."