WASHINGTON — Back in session following their summer recess, D.C. Council members are revisiting the possibility of removing a statue in the city that honors Albert Pike, a man who served as a Confederate general during the Civil War.
Erected by an 1898 act of Congress, the statue sits at Judiciary Square and depicts Pike, a former official with the Scottish Rite, holding a book he wrote compiling the guiding philosophies of the Freemasons.
The Scottish Rite is the largest branch of Freemasonry in the world, and its regional headquarters for the southern half of the United States is on 16th Street.
“The statue was dedicated to honor Pike’s involvement and actions as a Freemason, however his image has evolved into a symbol of divisiveness,” said Council member Jack Evans. “He should not be honored in our city.”
A group of council members formally asked the National Park Service in August to tear the monument down, but the agency said it must have authorization from Congress.
On Tuesday, Evans and Council member Mary Cheh introduced a resolution, calling on Congress to give the OK.
“We need to get Congress to pass an act to tell the National Park Service to let us go on the land to get this,” Evans said.
According to Evans, Scottish Rite leaders support removing the statue and even offered to help by providing a truck “so that it will not serve as a source of contention or strife for the residents” of the District.
However, Evans said when he arranged a plan to haul the statue away with the truck and a crane, he was informed by the National Park Service that he would be criminally charged with “trespassing and destruction of property” if he went ahead with it.
Cities and states around the country have been debating whether to tear down Confederate statues since the chaotic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month when white nationalists clashed violently with counter-protesters.
The incident centered around efforts to remove a Confederate monument in Charlottesville, Virginia.