Rush Introduces Legislation to Remove 1700 Confederate Monuments

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[Confederate Statues]
Rep Rush: “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..."
Photo: Rep. Rush

Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) announced the introduction of the Rejecting and Eliminating the Foul Use of Symbols Exulting (REFUSE) Confederate Principles Act, which would establish a program through the U.S. National Park Service to expedite the removal of Confederate symbols and to incentivize the formation of alternative structures.

“A little over three years ago, self-identified white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and members of the Klu Klux Klan descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, to ‘Unite the Right’ and honor the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee,” said Rep. Rush. “These racist thugs brandished weapons and carried torches, chanting ‘blood and soil’ and ‘Jews will not replace us.’ The hatred that consumed the streets of Charlottesville would eventually lead to the death of Heather Heyer when one of the Confederate sympathizers drove his car into her and a group of peaceful, counter protesters.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates that there are over 1700 similar Confederate Statues and monuments that remain in public places across the nation. These abhorrent commemorative structures, many of which were created long past the conclusion of the Civil War, are located in areas that far exceed the confines of the 11 Confederate States and are a means to uphold Confederate principles and white supremacy. The same white supremacy that led to the death of Heather Heyer and countless others.

“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.”

The REFUSE Confederate Principals Act would expedite the removal of Confederate symbols by:

  • Establishing a grant program entitled the Emancipation Historic Preservation Program for the purposes of removing and replacing Confederate symbols;
  • Authorizing funding to supplement the formation of alternative structures or symbols, including those structures or symbols that commemorate or depict the freedom of enslaved Black people;
  • Authorizing funding for the storage of symbols by a State historic preservation program for educational purposes;
  • Prohibiting the use of authorized appropriations under this Act for the preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, or construction of a Confederate symbol; and
  • Mandating a reporting structure to ensure accountability in the distribution and use of funds.

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