White House Rejects Proposal to ‘Rename, Remove, or Contextualize’ Historical Washington Monuments

September 2, 2020 Updated: September 2, 2020

The Trump administration has unequivocally rejected a Washington committee’s series of recommendations regarding how to “rename, remove, or contextualize” dozens of monuments, schools, parks, and buildings in the area, among which are the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement late Sept. 1 that as long as President Donald Trump is in the White House, the recommendations from Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office “will go absolutely nowhere.”

“As the mayor of our Nation’s capital city—a city that belongs to the American people—she ought to be ashamed for even suggesting them for consideration,” McEnany said.

Deputy press secretary Judd Deere weighed in on Twitter, asking rhetorically whether Bowser’s Twitter page was a parody account. “Thank God [President Trump] would never consider such an idea,” he wrote.

The committee, District of Columbia Facilities and Commemorative Expressions (DCFACES), is recommending that Bowser use her powers on the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission to advocate to “remove, relocate, or contextualize” nine national monuments:

  • Columbus Fountain
  • Benjamin Franklin Statue
  • Andrew Jackson Statue
  • Jefferson Memorial
  • George Mason Memorial
  • Newlands Memorial Fountain
  • Albert Pike Statue
  • Washington Monument
  • George Washington Statue

Such monuments are outside of the purview of the Washington government and therefore can’t be directly acted upon by Bowser.

Bowser had formed the DCFACES working group amid nationwide protests in which participants have been rallying against police brutality and systemic racial inequities. The group released a 24-page executive summary (pdf) on Sept. 1.

Epoch Times Photo
Mayor Muriel Bowser attends a press conference in Washington on June 10, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“Mayor Bowser charged [DCFACES] with evaluating named DC Government-owned facilities and make recommendations as to what, if any, actions need to be taken if the person the facility is named for is inconsistent with DC values and in some way encouraged the oppression of African Americans and other communities of color or contributed to our long history of systemic racism,” the group’s website reads.

In its summary, the group says its “decision-making prism” focused on “key disqualifying histories, including participation in slavery, systemic racism, mistreatment of, or actions that suppressed equality for, persons of color, women and LGBTQ communities and violation of the DC Human Rights Act.”

The White House statement from McEnany accused Bowser of “repeating the same left-wing narrative used to incite dangerous riots: demolishing our history and destroying our great heritage,” noting that the working group’s plan recommends potentially removing the Washington Monument, Christopher Columbus Statue, Andrew Jackson Statue, and Jefferson Memorial, and contains “many other ludicrous recommendations.”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks at the White House on Aug. 31, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

“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,” McEnany said, adding that Trump “believes these places should be preserved, not torn down; respected, not hated; and passed on for generations to come.”

In addition to targeting federal properties, the DCFACES committee in its report called for the renaming of 21 public schools; nine residential buildings and campuses; 12 public spaces—parks, fields, and playgrounds; and seven government buildings.

Bowser said in a statement on Sept. 1 announcing the report: “Washington, DC is a city driven by inclusivity and diversity—these values are at the core of who we are and what we fight for. We are also a city united by the idea that we can always do better, that we can always find a way to do more good for more people. The recommendations in this report will guide us as we move forward in advancing these shared DC values.”

She also announced that she looked forward to “reviewing and advancing” the group’s recommendations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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