US cities step up removal of Confederate statues, despite racist violence

August 15, 2017 10:30 pm

A bronze statue, titled the Confederate Soldier, is viewed in downtown Alexandria, Virginia, on August 14, 2017. (AFP photo)

Officials in states and cities across the said they would step up efforts to pull Confederate monuments from public spaces, despite the violence over the planned removal of such a statue in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The mayors of Lexington, Kentucky, and Baltimore, Maryland, said they would push ahead with plans to remove Confederate statues that are symbols of the Confederate slave-holding states that existed from 1861 to 1865.
Officials in Jacksonville, Florida, and Memphis, Tennessee, also announced new initiatives aimed at taking down such monuments.
The Memphis city council voted to remove a Confederate statue there in 2015, but the effort was blocked by the Tennessee historical commission. Memphis officials said they would take legal action to get state approval for its removal.
“This is a time to stand up and speak out,” Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said on Monday. He had moved up the announcement of his city’s efforts after the Charlottesville violence.
In Durham, North Carolina, protesters gathered on Monday at the Fayette County Courthouse around the Confederate Soldiers Monument and toppled the nearly century-old statue of John C. Breckinridge, the 14th vice president of the and a civil war era slave owner.
As of April, at least 60 symbols of the Confederacy had been removed or renamed across , according to the latest tally by the Southern Poverty Law Center, civil rights advocacy group that monitors hate groups.
Supporters of Confederate memorials argue they represent an important part of history, while opponents view them as symbols of hate and racism as well as an affront to African-Americans.
The clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters left one dead and scores wounded in Charlottesville on Saturday.
The white supremacists and neo-Nazis participating at the “Unite the Right” event were protesting against the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials from public spaces, specifically the Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park in Charlottesville.
The drive by civil rights groups and others to do away with Confederate monuments gained momentum after an avowed white supremacist murdered nine African-Americans at a church in 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina.
The deadly mass shooting ultimately led to the removal of a Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House in Columbia, South Carolina.
The Confederate States of America was an unrecognized confederation of secessionist US states whose regional economy was mostly dependent upon agriculture, which in turn largely relied upon the labor of black slaves.
Thousands of people across the US took part in protests against President Donald Trump and hate groups on Monday.
Anti-Trump protesters shouted “Shame!, Shame! Shame” and “No KKK, No Fascist USA, No Trump!” as they awaited for the president to arrive at Trump Tower in New York City.
Critics say that Trump’s divisive rhetoric and policies against immigrants and minorities before and after his election has emboldened far-right groups and promoted hate crimes across the country.
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