Sen. Cory Booker plans to introduce a bill to remove statues from the US Capitol honoring Confederate soldiers despite President Donald Trump calling these memorials “beautiful.”
“I will be introducing a bill to remove Confederate statues from the US Capitol building. This is just one step. We have much work to do,” the New Jersey Democrat tweeted Wednesday.
There are at least 10 Confederate statues in the Capitol, distributed between the Hall of Columns, the Capitol Visitor Center and other locations, most notably Statuary Hall, where each state chooses two statues to be on display.
When asked about the inclusion of Confederate statues in the Capitol, Doug Andres, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said “These are decisions for those states to make.” CNN has also reached out to the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and has not yet received a response.
Booker’s communications director said that the senator will introduce the bill after Labor Day, as the Senate is currently on recess.
As a growing number of American cities work to remove statues commemorating the Confederacy, Trump defended the statues again Thursday, arguing that removing them uproots American “culture” and history.
“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” he said in a series of tweets. “You … can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! Also … the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!” he tweeted.
Activists expressed interest and support for removing statues honoring Confederate soldiers and the Mississippi state flag, which includes a Confederate symbol, after the June 2015 massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, where Dylann Roof, a white supremacist who was photographed with Confederate memorabilia, killed nine black Americans during a church prayer service.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill in July 2015 to bring down the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds, less than a day after lawmakers in the state House of Representatives voted to remove it.
Centered in the Deep South but stretching from California to Massachusetts, roughly 1,500 Confederate symbols still exist on public land more than 150 years after the conclusion of the Civil War, according to 2016 data from the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based advocacy nonprofit organization that tracks civil rights and hate crimes in the United States.
Roughly half of those symbols — 718 of them as of last year — are monuments and statues. Three in four of them were built before 1950, but at least one in 10 of them were dedicated during the civil rights movement or since the year 2000.