Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser warned Thursday that a “mafia” would not decide which statues in the city are to be demolished, amid a surge of people across the country tearing down American historical monuments.
“This is what I think we have to do with the statues … is to have a reasonable conversation about statues and other historical figures. Not to have a mob decide they want to take it down and certainly not to destroy anything in the District and set it on fire.” Bowser, a Democrat, said, “So my first response is that we must maintain security and order around the statues.”
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The comments come amid a surge of anger directed at statues and monuments in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in police custody and a resurgence of discussion about America’s race and history.
While the initial targets were generals and Confederate figures, it has quickly spread to others, including Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence.
Over the weekend, protesters tied ropes and attempted to knock down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square Park, but police stopped them.
In the Capitol Hill neighborhood, protesters threatened to tear down a Lincoln statue showing the former president standing over a chained slave and holding the Emancipation Proclamation on Thursday night.
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Others have attempted to tear down the statue in a more orderly process. Congresswoman for Washington, DC Eleanor Holmes Norton said Tuesday she will introduce legislation to remove the “troublesome” statue.
Holmes Norton cited the statue’s “problematic depiction of the struggle to achieve emancipation” of the statue as grounds for its removal.
“Although previously enslaved Americans paid for the construction of this statue in 1876, the design and sculpture process was carried out without their input and it shows,” Holmes Norton said in a statement. “The statue does not in any way notice how enslaved African Americans pushed for their own emancipation.”
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Bowser said legislation had been proposed on the statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square.
“I’m thinking about how we can have a discussion about it,” he said.
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips, Mary Hughes and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.