Washington (CNN)Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser has narrowed the scope of a city panel’s recommendations for the namesakes of public works to exclude federal buildings, including those bearing the names of Founding Fathers, following backlash from the White House.
The initial DCFACES review released this week had included federal buildings among the parks and public schools that the group determined should be renamed because their current namesakes have ties to “slavery, systemic racism and other biases.” Although the city itself doesn’t have the authority to rename federal monuments, the report had recommended Bowser use her position on the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission to lobby the federal government to change the names or add historical context to them.The review, touching on an extremely sensitive issue in the wake of the national reckoning on race this summer, was seized on by some conservatives and the White House, which has sought to use the discussion to frame Democrats as trashing American history.
Bowser said Thursday her expectation of the report “was that it would not include any recommendations on federal buildings.””When I saw the final report and I could see immediately how its recommendations could be easily misconstrued or purposefully misconstrued, so we removed it,” she said at a press conference. Pressed by a reporter on the adjustment, Bowser acknowledged, “I think that the working group landed, like a lot of people do, with a difficult, how shall I say, a difficult reconciliation of all of those goals.”Read MoreThe White House had cast the working group’s report as “ludicrous” on Tuesday.”By publishing a plan that recommends potentially removing the Washington Monument, Christopher Columbus Statue, Andrew Jackson Statue, and Jefferson Memorial—among many other ludicrous recommendations—the radically liberal mayor of Washington, D.C., is repeating the same left-wing narrative used to incite dangerous riots: demolishing our history and destroying our great heritage,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.”Our Nation’s capital is rightly filled with countless markers, memorials, and statues to honor and respect the men and women who built this country. President Donald J. Trump believes these places should be preserved, not torn down; respected, not hated; and passed on for generations to come.”She added: “As long as President Trump is in the White House, the mayor’s irresponsible recommendations will go absolutely nowhere.”Interior Secretary David Bernhardt echoed that criticism, tweeting a photo of some of the recommendations with the caption, “not on my watch. Never going to happen.”The DCFACES review was commissioned by Bowser after the May police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“In all instances we believe strongly that all District of Columbia owned public spaces, facilities and commemorative works should only honor those individuals who exemplified those values such as equity, opportunity and diversity that DC residents hold dear,” the committee’s report said.The panel explained that its “decision-making prism focused on key disqualifying histories, including participation in slavery, systemic racism, mistreatment of, or actions that suppressed equality for, persons of color, women and LGBTQ communities and violation of the DC Human Right Act.”