Washington, June 12 (Xinhua) — Removing statues of Confederacy, a group of southern U.S. states favouring slavery in the American Civil War, has become a new battlefield, as nationwide protests against racial discrimination have flared in the United States.
Furious protesters have rallied in downtown squares, chanted “Black Lives Matter,” and toppled dozens of monuments to Confederate politicians and soldiers.
A statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the southeastern U.S. state of Virginia was toppled.
Sculptures of Columbus, who stumbled on the Americas in the 15th Century, were not immune to this wave sparked by the death of African American George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis.
Floyd was knelt on the neck by a white officer for almost nine minutes before he lost consciousness and stopped breathing.
The unexpected wave has not spared statues in the U.S. Capitol.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congressman Bennie Thompson on Thursday introduced a bill that would remove Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol.
“Americans in all 50 states and millions of people around the world are marching to protest racism and police violence directed at people of color, and yet across the country, Confederate statues and monuments still pay tribute to white supremacy and slavery in public spaces,” Lee said in a statement.
Thompson said “we do this in a spirit of racial reconciliation and healing.”
There are currently 11 statues of people who served in the Confederacy, either as officials or soldiers, displayed in the Capitol complex.
The statues are all part of the National Statuary Hall Collection, created in 1864 with a law that allows states to select two statues of deceased individuals to be displayed in the U.S. Capitol.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, on Wednesday called for the removal of the statues.
“Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to these ideals. Their statues pay homage to hate, not heritage. They must be removed,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library.
President Donald Trump has defended allowing Confederate statues and buildings named after Confederate officials to remain in place.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted he “will not even consider” renaming U.S. Army bases that were named for Confederate figures despite openness from top Pentagon officials to the idea.
Thousands of U.S. National Guard troops have been deployed to respond to the raging protests, some of which have deteriorated into violent conflicts.
A group of UN human rights experts on Wednesday condemned the violent crackdown on widespread peaceful protests in the United States.
In a joint statement, they said that police abuse and excessive use of force during peaceful assemblies is inexcusable at any time but it is especially distressing when demonstrators are precisely calling for accountability on police brutality and systemic racism in policing.
“Firing tear gas and beating peaceful protesters does not silence them. It only reaffirms the urgency of the struggle for police reform and racial justice in the United States,” the joint statement said.
The experts also expressed alarm at the militarization of the crackdown, including the deployment of at least 62,000 National Guard soldiers who are not trained to manage protests.
They welcomed measures by authorities in some cities, including Minneapolis, to open dialogue with African-American communities and civil society organizations and respond to their calls to end systemic racism and violence in policing.
Indonesian political analyst Irwansyah told Xinhua that the death of Floyd reveals the double standards of Washington.
Irwansyah, a lecturer in political science at the University of Indonesia, said that the killing of Floyd was not a rare occurrence in the United States.
“This brings people to view such incidents (as) caused by systemic racism which underpins the recurring police brutality incidents,” said Irwansyah, adding that racial discrimination lies deep in the country’s social, economic and political system and has been acknowledged many times by the government, civil society activists and academics throughout the nation’s history, he said.
The danger and power of white nationalism and supremacy in U.S. politics, he said, is seemingly concerning and obvious to people around the world.
Other kinds of racism and sectarianism also emerge continuously to shape the life of U.S. citizens, he noted.
“This indicates the racism problem is not only seriously threatening the daily life of regular people, but also seriously vital to support the power system in the U.S.,” he said.
(The picture at the top shows the decapitated statue of the discoverer of America, Christopher Columbus, in Boston)