WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday refused to condemn protesters who toppled a statue of Christoper Columbus in her hometown of Baltimore before tossing it in a nearby harbor, blowing it off by saying, “People will do what they do.”
“I think that its up to the communities to decide what statues they want to see,” Pelosi (D. Calif) said when pressed on the July 4 incident where a mob of activists tore down the statue of Columbus, dragged it to the edge of Inner Harbor and threw it into the water, according to local media reports.
Explaining her position, the Democratic lawmaker, 80, said she wasn’t a sentimental person, and even went so far as to compare monuments to her grandmother’s earrings, which she hadn’t kept.
“I’m not one of those people who’s wedded to, ‘Oh, a statue to somebody someplace is an important thing’,” she told reporters at a press briefing on Capitol Hill.
“If the community doesn’t want the statue there, the statue shouldn’t be there,” she said, skipping over the rule of law. “I don’t care that much about the statues.”
When one reporter pushed back on Pelosi, suggesting it would be better for the City Council to remove the statue than a “mob in the middle of the night,” the congresswoman said: “People will do what they do.”
Pelosi’s nonchalant stance towards the toppling of statues around the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death stands in stark contrast to President Trump, who has warned he would pursue hefty criminal sentences for offenders.
Pelosi, whose father was the mayor of Baltimore from 1947 to 1959, also took a different stance to local leaders who condemned the protester’s behavior.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. Jack Young said he would not tolerate the destruction of the statue of the 15th century Italian explorer who colonized the Americas.
“If we identify them, they will be brought to justice,” Young said, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“We support peaceful protest. This is not a peaceful protest,” Young added. “It is unacceptable.”
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