Columbia’s mayor says he takes offense at some of the statues resting on the South Carolina Statehouse grounds, but more so by statues which are not related to the Civil War or Confederacy.
Baltimore’s city council this week voted to remove three Confederate statues from various locations throughout the Maryland city. Meanwhile, protesters ripped down the statue of a confederate solider in Durham, North Carolina on Monday, part of the backlash over violent protests at a white nationalist rally for another Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend
But Mayor Steve Benjamin told MSNBC on Tuesday that the statues he believes are the most disturbing have little to do with the Confederacy. “Several of them have to do with the period post-Reconstruction, in which there were reigns of terror led by the Ku Klux Klan and others like (former Gov.) “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman,” Benjamin said on the Hardball with Chris Matthews program.
Benjamin said he would like to see the statue of J. Marion Sims come down. Sims is recognized for his research which helped establish the field of gynecology, but he also used unwilling slaves for medical experiments. Benjamin says Sims, “tortured slave women and children for years as he developed his treatments for gynecology.”
Tillman’s statue has been the target of criticism for years due to his rise in the post-Reconstruction South with the help of white supremacists groups such as the “Red Shirts” who intimidated, threatened and even killed black voters and whites sympathetic to them. Another statue honors former Confederate general and Gov. Wade Hampton, III, who also benefitted from the “Red Shirts” racial voter suppression.
South Carolina law would require the legislature approve any historical monument removals across South Carolina. Republican leaders have made it clear they do not want to take up the subject, although there is an effort by some Democratic lawmakers to change the law so local governments can have authority to remove some monuments.