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Majority say Confederate statues should remain: poll

Majority say Confederate statues should remain: poll
© Jackson County

A majority of voters said they believe statues of Confederate figures should remain standing despite nationwide calls to remove them from public spaces, according to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released Tuesday to The Hill. 

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said the statues should remain, while 42 percent said they should be removed. 

A number of Confederate monuments have been defaced or torn down in cities across the U.S. since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody last month sparked mass protests against racial inequality. Several cities, states and universities have also announced they would remove Confederate symbols from their public squares.

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Seventy-one percent of respondents in the survey said local governments should block groups from physically destroying the statues. Another 29 percent said the local authorities should prevent the groups from damaging the statues. 

"Americans opposed tearing down statues, even Confederate ones, and they particularly oppose them being torn down by protesters rather than defended by the authorities," said Mark Penn, polling director for the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey. "The poll suggests that Americans see a huge amount of racism in the country and believe in police reform but so far oppose taking down any statues." 

The attempts to remove statues of controversial figures nearly reached the White House on Monday when protesters tried to topple a statue of former President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square across the street. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE reacted to the protesters Tuesday, saying he would sign an executive order that would reinforce existing laws in the U.S. that punish people for vandalizing monuments. 

The development comes as the U.S. grapples with the issue of racial injustice amid the deaths of a number of African Americans while in police custody. 

The protests over the issue have sparked conversations in a number of industries on how to promote racial justice in the U.S. The same Harvard CAPS/Harris survey showed that 69 percent of voters said they did not believe news editors or CEOs should lose their jobs if they criticize the Black Lives Matter movement, while roughly 60 percent of voters said they supported corporations donating millions of dollars to the movement. 

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The nationwide conversation on race has also caused a number of brands and media companies to reflect on their own content. HBO Max reintroduced the 1939 Civil War-era film, "Gone with the Wind," earlier this month after temporarily removing it to add "multiple historical contexts." 

Seventy-seven percent of respondents in the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll said they believed it was wrong to remove the movie from the platform, while 23 percent said it was the right move. 

The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll online survey of 1,886 registered voters was conducted June 17-18. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll throughout 2020.

Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.