WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi weighed in on the toppling of Baltimore’s Christopher Columbus statue on the Fourth of July, saying at a news conference Thursday that, “if the community doesn’t want the statue there, the statue shouldn’t be there.”

The Baltimore native said the statue’s removal doesn’t diminish her pride in her Italian American heritage, adding she doesn’t care much about statues.

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“I’m more interested in what people have accomplished,” she said. “I think that it’s up to the communities to decide what statues they want to see.”

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When asked whether the Columbus statue should have been ordered to be removed by the city council instead of taken down by protesters, she said that from a safety standpoint it would be a good idea but said communities should debate the values they want to publicly display.

“People will do what they do,” Pelosi said of the protesters.

She also renewed her call for statues of Confederates to be removed from the nation’s capitol building.

“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 as those statues exist in the Congress… of the halls of Congress,” she said.

The Italian community in Baltimore’s Little Italy neighborhood has vowed to rebuild the statue, which was dedicated in 1984.

Gov. Hogan responded to Pelosi’s comments. The governor Tweeted that, “It’s disappointing that Speaker Pelosi has lost touch with the Baltimore community that her family served.”

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The governor went onto say, “While efforts towards peaceful change are welcome, there is no place in Maryland for lawlessness, vandalism, and destruction of public property.”

 

At a news conference Thursday, Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said the city will not tolerate the destruction of property.

“You just cannot erase history,” the mayor said. “For those who want to destroy property and things of that nature, it’s not going to be tolerated.”

Young added once police identify those responsible, they will be held accountable.

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In the wake of the statue’s removal, state Delegate Nino Mangione pre-filed legislation that would punish people who destroy statues or monuments with up to 10 years in prison and a fine.

Rachel Menitoff