Boston Reacts After Trump Calls Confederate Statues ‘Beautiful'

President Donald Trump's comments defending "beautiful" Confederate monuments is fueling the anger that is already building in Boston ahead of a "Free Speech" rally on the Common on Saturday.

Historians and city leaders say the president's suggestions that statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson could be next go too far.

"Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments," the president wrote on Twitter. "You can't change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!"

"It doesn't make sense," Damon Dubose, a resident of Boston who thinks the monuments should come down said. "I mean, it shows you what side he's on."

Kevin Levin, a public historian and civil war expert who once taught in Charlottesville, said the president has to understand the difference between Confederate leaders and the country's Founding Fathers.

"As an educator, I am extremely disappointed that the president cannot make the distinction between Thomas Jefferson and George Washington who established this country," Levin said.

Levin understands the historical significance of the Confederate symbols, but said removing offensive statues and monuments is a topic worth debating. He said given the violence in Virginia, now is not the time to talk about beauty.

"Given what happened in Charlottesville, should the concern about artistic beauty and aesthetics be a discussion we're having as Americans? I would suggest the answer is a flat out no," Levin said.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he thinks the president went too far when he mentioned statues of Washington and Jefferson, calling the comments unfortunate as he and other city leaders try to tamp down the rhetoric ahead of Saturday's rally.

"I think we all need to take a step back," Mayor Walsh said. "Right now, I'm focused on Saturday. I'm not focused on Faneuil hall. I'm not focused on Dudley Square. I'm not focused on Yawkey Way. I'm focused on Saturday."

Boston's only Confederate memorial on George's Island is currently boarded up as the state decides what to do with it. There are no plans to remove the statue of George Washington in the Boston Public Garden.

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