Lawmakers propose $150M bill to remove Confederate statues while American families struggle to pay rent

WASHINGTON, DC – Illinois Democratic Representative Bobby Rush introduced a bill this month to provide $150 million to “remove and replace” Confederate monuments as American families face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The “Rejecting and Eliminating the Foul Use of Symbols Exulting Confederate Principles Act,” or “REFUSE Confederate Principals Act” was introduced on February 1, which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.

The bill, also known as H.R. 672, would pay grants to the National Park Service for the removal of Confederate statues and symbols from public places.

The bill aims to:

“Direct the Secretary of the Interior to establish a grant program to provide funds for the removal of Confederate symbols.

The Secretary, in consultation with the Director, shall establish, within the National Park Service, a program to be known as the ‘Emancipation Historic Preservation Program’ to award grants to eligible entities.”

If passed, the bill would direct the removal of Confederate symbols and replace them with alternative monuments, memorials, statues, commemorative structures, symbols, or signage.

The bill specifically calls for alternative monuments or symbols to “commemorate or depict the freedom of enslaved African Americans.”

Removed statues and other symbols would be moved to state historic preservation programs for storage under the bill.

The bill authorizes the appropriation of $15 million federal dollars to the program every year until 2031. None of the funds provided in the bill would be permitted for use in the preservation, repair, or new construction of Confederate symbols.

The proposed bill defines a “confederate symbol” as:

“A Confederate flag or a monument, memorial, statue, memorative structure, symbol, or signage that honors a Confederate leader, Confederate soldier, the Confederate States of America, or the Confederacy in general.”

The $150 million price tag comes as the United States’ economic situation struggles through the Covid-19 pandemic, and American families struggle with high unemployment, business loss, and illness.

Unemployment is worse than that during the 2008 recession, and 4% growth in the fourth quarter following 33.4% growth in the third quarter has not been enough to offset the contraction seen in the second quarter of 2020.

The most recent gross domestic product rate was 4.0% for the fourth quarter and is slowly recovering from the worst contraction in U.S. history when the second-quarter rate was -31.4%.

Manufacturing lost 1.3 million jobs in April and is a key indicator of a recession.

Although manufacturing shows signs of a slow recovery, the improvements are nowhere near what is needed to replace the massive job losses.

The unemployment rate rested at 6.7% in December and remained unchanged from November.

The economy lost 140,000 jobs in December. Prior to December, unemployment had been rising since the crushing loss of 20.5 million jobs attributed to the pandemic in April 2020.  At that time, unemployment hit 14.7%.

Tens of millions of Americans across the country are struggling to make ends meet in a democracy decimated by the pandemic and related lockdowns and business closures.

Rep. Rush initially introduced his REFUSE bill in 2020, where it sat in committee. At the time, Rush said it was time to remove the symbols:

“It is past time that we eradicate these totems of treason and replace them with symbols that represent the true promise of America, such as the emancipation of Black Americans. 

“My bill, the REFUSE Confederate Principles Act, would do just that by creating the Emancipation Historic Preservation program, which would provide grants for removing the false idols of the Confederacy and replacing them with symbols and structures that we can actually be proud of.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Mike Lee re-introduced a bill last week calling for the removal of Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol. The bill was brought up last year and was opposed by then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky). Sen. McConnell said:

“What I do think is clearly a bridge too far is this nonsense that we need to airbrush the Capitol and scrub out everybody from years ago who had any connection to slavery.”

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Lincoln and Roosevelt statues toppled in downtown Portland during ‘day of rage’ protest: Portland police arrest 26

October 12, 2020

PORTLAND, OR- Authorities declared a riot in downtown Portland after a large group of violent demonstrators marched through the South Park Blocks, vandalizing and toppling statues of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

Rioters did not stop there as they broke windows at the Oregon Historical Society building in downtown Portland.

According to reports, protesters met under the Burnside Bridge and marched to the South Park Blocks for what they declared an “Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage.”

Allegedly, there were social media posts calling for an “end” of colonialism and for the abolishment of the police. Just before 9 p.m., on Sunday, October 11th, police tweeted that a “mass gathering” had formed at Southwest Park Avenue and Southwest Madison Street.

https://twitter.com/KittyLists/status/1315519758725378048

Police reported that the protesters were trying to pull down a statue with a chain.

Authorities warned the protesters that anyone involved in criminal behavior, including vandalism, was subject to arrest. The Oregonian reported that the organizers of the violent protest signaled their aggressive stance for the night calling for “direct action”.

In addition, the organizers demanded that the video live-streamers and photographers who have become staples of such events to stay away. People in the crowd were repeatedly told not to film. Individuals who passed by the destruction were ordered by demonstrators to stop filming or delete photographs. 

The demonstrators were extremely violent towards those who were caught filming. In fact, an apartment resident had lasers shined at his eyes and a liquid thrown in his face when they saw him shooting a video of the scene from his terrace.

After downing the statues of Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, members in the crowd began smashing windows of local buildings.

The group hung a banner that said, “Stop honoring racist colonizer murders.” A mural on the Sovereign Hotel building depicting the Lewis & Clark expedition was splattered with red paint.

Video from the toppled statues show that they had been vandalized with the words “Stolen Land” and “Murderer” spray-painted at their bases. 

At 9:40 p.m., police declared a riot after getting additional reports of damage. They told the crowd to disperse immediately. 

The group, nearly 200 strong, marched through downtown Portland, at one point occupying all four lanes of West Burnside Street. Most of the demonstrators were dressed in all black, from head-to-toe. Many wore body armor, carried shields, and wielded night sticks or other weapons.

Authorities reported that 26 people were arrested by Portland police officers after protesters gathered outside the bureau’s North Precinct and blocked streets into the late hours on Saturday night. On that night, October 10th, the North Precinct was targeted again by violent protesters.

It has been targeted numerous times over the past 130-plus nights by violent protests, including some that devolved into riots, arson fires, and violent attacks on officers. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) had been informed that the gathering on Saturday, October 10th as well as Sunday, October 11th were “direct action” events.

There were multiple warnings broadcast over loudspeaker and social media by the PPB:

“To those who gathered near North Precinct, NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd is open to vehicular traffic. Immediately vacate the roadway and proceed to the sidewalk. Additionally, do not participate in criminal activity. Those who do not move off NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd will be subject to citation, arrest, or force.”

“If you remain in the roadway and show the intent to engage in physical resistance to removal, of if emergency circumstances require, you may be subject to the use of crowd control agents, including, but not limited to tear gas and impact weapons. Move to the sidewalk now.”

According to PPB, 26 people were arrested with charges including interfering with a peace officer, disorderly conduct in the second degree, resisting arrest, and carrying a concealed weapon. 

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Author: Scott A. Davis

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