Steve Benjamin says monument at SC State House ‘should come down at some point’

Screenshot of Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin on MSNBC.
Screenshot of Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin on MSNBC.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said Tuesday that the most offensive statue on the state’s capitol grounds to him was not the Confederate monument.

“It was J. Marion Sims,” said Benjamin, while speaking on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. “It should come down at some point.”

Benjamin raised the issue while discussing President Donald Trump’s remarks on Tuesday regarding the white nationalists who gathered in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.

“So this week it's Robert E. Lee,” Trump said. “I noticed that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?”

Benjamin told Matthews that Trump had the “moral responsibility” to find ways to bring people together instead of “trying to sow seeds of division and hate.” When asked about those who want to see some of those statues remain and how he felt about the statues, Benjamin said he found some of them “wholly offensive.”

“There are a few of them, actually, have to do with the Civil War,” Benjamin said. “Several of them have to do with the period of post reconstruction in which there were reigns of terror led by the Ku Klux Klan and others like ‘pitchfork’ Ben Tillman.”

But the monument he found most offensive was J. Marion Sims, who “tortured slave women and children for years as he developed his treatments for gynecology.”

Benjamin also said he had “blocked Donald Trump on Twitter” more than a year ago, and that “people saw exactly the direction this president was going in well over a year ago.”

“Many condoned it,” Benjamin said. “Many chose other reasons to vote for him. But it’s crystal clear now that he has no desire to bring the people of America together.”

Cynthia Roldán: @CynthiaRoldan