Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the House Republican Leader introduced legislation on Thursday in an effort to protect statues targeted by vandals, by preventing state and local governments from receiving certain federal grants if they do not safeguard monuments.
McCarthy unveiled the “Protect America’s Statues Act of 2020,” with Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Sam Graves (R-Mo.), as monuments and statues in cities across the United States, face vandalism, amid ongoing protests and unrest.
“Public monuments are indispensable because they tell the American story. It is wrong to erase our history. We should be learning from it,” McCarthy said in a statement.
“Instead, leftwing mobs in cities across the country are destroying statues of General Grant, St. Serra, Christopher Columbus, and abolitionists. This is lawlessness in its purest and most unacceptable form,” McCarthy continued.
The California Republican criticized liberals and democrats as irresponsible, for not opposing the destruction of the historic artifacts.
“If state and local officials will not protect historical monuments, then Congress must and will. My legislation has real consequences for states and cities: no order, no funding. It is time to respect our laws, protect our history, and punish the statue smashers,” the House Leader added.
McCarthy’s legislation is in response to angry protestors vandalizing statues in public places throughout the country. Protests erupted throughout the world in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, while in police custody at the end of May.
Initially, protestors toppled confederate statues, but the hate spread quickly to include other historic figures that had nothing to do with the confederacy, including a monument of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.
Along with Republican lawmakers, President Donald Trump has been critical of the toppling of statues and the vandalizing of historic monuments, especially following the attempts to topple a monument of Andrew Jackson and The Emancipation Memorial. He has also been outspoken about the vandalism at the Lincoln Memorial and World War II Memorial.
To help protect these historic landmarks the President in June signed an executive order. “To destroy a monument is to desecrate our common inheritance,” the order said.
“In the midst of these attacks, many State and local governments appear to have lost the ability to distinguish between the lawful exercise of rights to free speech and assembly and unvarnished vandalism,” the order states.
The Executive Order goes on to say, that whoever violates the law will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Meanwhile, Democratic Congressional leaders have initiated efforts to take down Confederate monuments, and remained largely silent on the toppling and vandalizing of non-confederate historic landmarks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently commented on the toppling and destruction of the Christopher Columbus statue in Baltimore.
“People will do what they do,” Pelosi said at a news conference at the Capitol. “It’s up to the communities to decide what statues they want to see.” She added, “I do think that from a safety standpoint it would be a good idea to have it taken down if the community doesn’t want it.”