“I’ll be introducing legislation to withhold funding from states and cities where leaders fail to uphold the law,” McCarthy said during a press briefing Thursday. “The mobs that Democrats encourage, suppress speech and punish those who speak out.”
McCarthy’s announcement follows nationwide demonstrations against systematic racism in the U.S., with many calling for the removal of all confederate statues, and some even calling for the removal of any statue with relations to slavery. The protests were brought on following cellphone footage that was released showing the death of George Floyd while in police custody on May 25.
“Democrats encourage it because they think it is a distraction, that their agenda can skate by unnoticed – they see it as a supplement to the radical movement in the streets,” McCarthy said.
Several confederate monuments were forcibly pulled down by protestors, but the statues of George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant — who led the Union Army during the Civil War, but reportedly owned slaves for a time — were also torn down.
Several GOP members of Congress have spoken out against the removal of the statues and monuments, saying the protesters are attempting to destroy history and in some cases, have gone too far.
“The cancel culture that is tearing down statues of George Washington, and Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt for heaven’s sakes — this cancel movement seeks to divide us, not unite,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said while speaking from the Senate floor Thursday.
McCarthy also voiced his frustrations regarding congressional Democrats who have not spoken out against demonstrators forcibly removing statues, particularly the ones that are not related to the Confederacy.
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“Unfortunately, though, some on the left encouraged by the silence of Democratic leaders, including the Speaker of this House are trying to erase our story,” McCarthy said Thursday. “They want to erase our history. Whether it’s a monument of Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves or four of our greatest, Democrats no longer view the richness of our country’s history worthy.”
“The mobs the Democrats encourage, destroy property, they threaten and sometimes even attack innocent citizens.”
Several Democratic leaders say they have taken steps to remove statues of Confederate leaders and soldiers, as a matter of public safety.
Richmond, Va., Mayor Levar Stoney announced Wednesday that 11 Confederate statues located throughout the city would be removed over the next few days through the use of emergency powers.
“Failing to remove the statues now poses a severe, immediate and growing threat to public safety,” Stoney said in a statement Wednesday. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, and protesters attempt to take down Confederate statues themselves or confront others who are also doing so, the risk grows for serious illness, injury, or death.”
President Trump recently signed an executive order protecting American monuments, statues and memorials from “unvarnished vandalism.”
“Their selection of targets reveals a deep ignorance of our history,” President Trump said in a White House statement. “To them, it made no difference that President Grant led the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy in the Civil War, enforced Reconstruction, fought the Ku Klux Klan, and advocated for the Fifteenth Amendment, which guaranteed freed slaves the right to vote.”
The order has directed the Department of Justice to work with states to prosecute people who vandalize and destroy monuments.