Vice President Mike Pence has weighed in on the debate surrounding Confederate statues across the country, disclosing that he would like to see even more monuments be erected. The vice president added that he believes local officials and their communities should decide on the removal of Confederate monuments.
On Aug. 22, Pence condemned vigilante attempts to destroy controversial statues.
"I agree with the president that seeing people destroy public property in the name of any cause is just simply unacceptable," Pence told Fox News. "Communities can have conversations about what displays happen."
On Aug. 21, 25-year-old Andrew Schneck of Houston allegedly attempted to destroy a statue of Confederate Lieutenant Richard Dowling in a local park. The suspect was apprehended on the scene with explosives, according to AP.
Controversy surrounding shrines to the Confederacy in public spaces has intensified following a deadly white nationalist really in Charlottesville, Virginia. On Aug. 12, white supremacists gathered in the university town to protest the removal of a monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The event went from disturbing to tragic when alt-right member James Alex Fields Jr. drove his vehicle through a crowd of counter protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others, The Washington Post reports.
In 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center estimated that there were 1,500 Confederate symbols in public spaces across the country. They also found that 718 of those symbols were in the form of monuments and statues, according to CNN.
Following the violent Charlottesville rally, more than 25 Confederate monuments nationwide have been removed amid local community pressure, BuzzFeed News reports.
On Aug. 16, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey announced that he would introduce legislation to remove all Confederate monuments from the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., the Washington Examiner reports.
Pence, when asked whether he would support such a proposal, stated "I hold the view that it's important that we remember our past and build on the progress that we have made."
"I'm someone who believes in more monuments, not less monuments," Pence continued. "What we ought to do is we ought to remember our history, but we also ought to celebrate the progress that we've made since that history."
Pence referenced walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where local law enforcement beat protesters marching for voting rights in March 1965.
"When I walked back in 2010 across the Edmund Pettus Bridge ... we remembered Bloody Sunday and the extraordinary progress of the civil rights movement, and I can't help but think that, rather than pulling down monuments, as some are wont to do... we ought to have been building more monuments," Pence said.
The bridge Pence cited is named after Edmund Pettus, a Confederate general and leader of the Alabama chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, according to Smithsonian.com.
Sources: AP via ABC News, BuzzFeed News, CNN, Fox News, Smithsonian.com, Washington Examiner, The Washington Post / Featured Image: D. Myles Cullen/The White House/Flickr / Embedded Images: Tim1965/Wikimedia Commons, Gage Skidmore/Flickr