By Chris White
More than 50% of Americans oppose removing public statues dedicated to Confederate generals, according to a Washington Post/ABC poll published Monday.
The poll showed 80% of Republicans and 56% of independents oppose removing such monuments, while 74% of Democrats support ridding the country of statues commemorating the Confederacy. Nearly 60% of white people oppose their removal, as do about half of Hispanic people, the poll found.
Three-quarters of black Americans support removing statues of General Robert E. Lee, among other Confederate generals.
The poll, conducted July 12-15 among 1,006 adults, found stiffer opposition to removing statues honoring former U.S. presidents who enslaved African Americans, with 68% of Americans opposing such removals. Only 25% of people surveyed support their removal.
WaPo’s poll also revealed a stark division between black and white people on the subject.
Roughly 60% of black people surveyed supported removing statues of former presidents who owned slaves, while 70% of white people opposed removal, according to the poll, which had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
The same poll found that a majority of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter began during the Obama administration after the police-related killing of Trayvon Martin, according to the organization’s website.
The movement resurged following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in May after a white police officer in Minneapolis kneeled on his neck for nearly 9-minutes, video of the incident shows. His death resulted in nationwide demonstrations and for calls to defund the police.
Nearly 62% of white people say minorities do not receive equal treatment as white people in the criminal justice system, the poll found. This figure rose 18 points since 2014. Nearly all black Americans – 97% – believe there is unequal treatment.
Former Vice President Joe Biden told reporters at a news conference in June that he preferred that Confederate statues be removed while those of founding fathers who owned slaves should be left standing.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order in June criminalizing destruction of monuments on federal property. The order was a response to attempts to topple the statue of former President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square park.
“I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the U.S. with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent,” the president tweeted. “This action is taken effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!”
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