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Tuesday, 1 September 2020

White House slams DC committee's 'ludicrous' suggestion that the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial should be 'removed or relocated' because they are 'inconsistent with the city's values'

The mayor of Washington DC has been slammed by the White House after a committee she founded to review the city's monuments and statues recommended the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial be 'removed, relocated or contextualized'.
Mayor Muriel Bowser formed DCFACES in July, amid a nationwide discussion about how America's history should be represented, and who should be commemorated.
She said their job was 'evaluating public spaces to ensure the namesake's legacy is consistent with DC values'.
On Monday the 34 members of the working group delivered their report, which will now be reviewed and potentially implemented by the mayor. 
They found nine statues and monuments that they listed for 'remove, relocate or contextualize'. 
Among them was the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial and statue of Andrew Jackson.
The Washington Monument was identified as problematic by a committee in the US capital
The Washington Monument was identified as problematic by a committee in the US capital 
The 34-member DCFACES committee also said the Jefferson Memorial should be reviewed
The 34-member DCFACES committee also said the Jefferson Memorial should be reviewed
The Andrew Jackson statue outside the White House was among nine statues of concern
The Andrew Jackson statue outside the White House was among nine statues of concern
Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington DC, said she would study the recommendations
Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington DC, said she would study the recommendations

The committee said it took into account five factors when making a decision whether something should be renamed or taken down: did the honoree participate in slavery, was the honoree involved in systematic racism, did the person support oppression, was the person involved in a supremacist agenda, and did the honoree violate the city's human rights law. 
Critics of the Democrat mayor leapt on the idea that the world-renowned landmarks could be removed or relocated. 
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany immediately dismissed their 'ludicrous' findings.
'By publishing a plan that recommends potentially removing the Washington Monument, Christopher Columbus Statue, Andrew Jackson Statue, and Jefferson Memorial - among many other ludicrous recommendations - the radically liberal mayor of Washington, D.C., is repeating the same left-wing narrative used to incite dangerous riots: demolishing our history and destroying our great heritage,' she said.   
'Our Nation's capital is rightly filled with countless markers, memorials, and statues to honor and respect the men and women who built this country. 
'President Donald J. Trump believes these places should be preserved, not torn down; respected, not hated; and passed on for generations to come.' 
She said that Trump would ensure 'the mayor's irresponsible recommendations will go absolutely nowhere'.
'She ought to be ashamed for even suggesting them for consideration,' McEnany said. 
The Christopher Columbus fountain outside Union Station was deemed problematic
The Christopher Columbus fountain outside Union Station was deemed problematic
The Benjamin Franklin statue, on 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, was also listed
The Benjamin Franklin statue, on 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, was also listed
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt dismissed the suggestions immediately
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt dismissed the suggestions immediately
'Not on my watch. Never going to happen,' tweeted David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior. 
Alyssa Farah, White House communications director, tweeted: 'I'm not even sure what relocating the Washington Monument would entail.'
And DC political hopeful Will Mascaro, in the running to be an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, said he celebrated the idea of commemorating a wider variety of people, but was strongly against the removal of the existing nine statues and memorials.
'Also, where does the Working Group recommend we RELOCATE 81,000 ton Washington Monument to, exactly???' he said. 
'I can't believe my tax dollars have been spent commissioning this report.' 
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he would refuse to remove the nine memorials
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he would refuse to remove the nine memorials
White House communications director said the idea of relocating the Monument was ludicrous
White House communications director said the idea of relocating the Monument was ludicrous
Aspiring local politician Will Mascaro laughed off the idea of removing the Monument
Aspiring local politician Will Mascaro laughed off the idea of removing the Monument
In making their decisions, the committee was asked to evaluate 1,330 named places - schools, residential housing, streets, neighborhoods, parks, recreation centers, libraries and monuments.
Of those, 153 were named after 'persons of concern'. 
Some of the group´s recommendations were widely expected; for example, Woodrow Wilson High School has been a prime candidate for a name change for years due to Wilson´s open public support for segregation. 
The report doesn't go into detail about how 're-contextualizing' would work, but there have been recent recommendations that plaques be added to the monuments to Jefferson and Washington, explaining that their namesakes were longtime slave-owners.
Bowser, in a Tuesday tweet, said she looked forward to reviewing the recommendations from the task force, which she had tasked with 'evaluating public spaces to ensure the namesake´s legacy is consistent with #DCValues.'
Bowser has very little power to control what happens on federal land. She and the D.C. Council fought for years to have a statue of former Confederate general Albert Pike removed; they were unsuccessful because the statue sits on federal land. In June, hundreds of protesters toppled the Pike statue while officers from the Metropolitan Police Department looked on and kept their distance.
Demands for a reassessment of DC's monuments and statues have been growing, and have sharply divided people.
Donald Trump has seized on the discussion as a 'culture war', insisting that the debate should not even be held.
Yet even as he introduced fines for toppling statues, Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, ordered the removal of Confederate statues from within the Capitol.
Across the States protesters have been taking matters into their own hands, with memorials to Confederate generals such as Robert E Lee frequently attacked, as well as Christopher Columbus, who 'discovered' the Americas for his Spanish patrons but in doing so wiped out a huge swathe of the Native population. 

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