10 July 2020

Nancy Pelosi refuses to condemn protesters who pulled down Christopher Columbus statue

The speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi refused to condemn protesters who pulled down a statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore when challenged at a press conference.

The statue was vandalised and rolled into Baltimore's Inner Harbour on Independence Day. 

The plinth where the Columbus statue once stood near Little Italy in Baltimore (SIPA USA/PA Images)

Pelosi said: “If the community doesn't want the statue there, the statue shouldn't be there. It's up to the communities to decide what statues they want to see,” she said.

She added the statue being toppled 'doesn't diminish my pride in my Italian American heritage'.

“I think that it's very important that we take down any of the statues of people who committed treason against the United States of America."

Columbus is known for being a great explorer but he also enslaved non-white people when he was colonising what is now the Dominican Republic.

The vandalism was a result of the Black Lives Matter protests taking place across the US, and the world, following the death of George Floyd in May.

Pelosi, who is from Baltimore, also answered a question about whether statue choice should be up to a commission or protesters.

“People will do what they do,” she replied.

“I do think that from a safety standpoint, it would be a good idea to have it taken down if the community doesn't want it. I don't know that it has to be a commission.”

Baltimore Police look on at the submerged statue of Christopher Columbus, dragged by protesters into the southern end of the Jones Falls, which drains into Baltimore's Inner Harbour (SIPA USA/PA Images)

Around 300 people were present to see the statue roll into the harbour though parts of it were retrieved on Monday by emergency services.

Bernard Young, the city’s mayor, has said the people responsible will face justice and added protesters cannot ‘erase history. You learn from it’.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox