In an overnight operation, workers removed Baltimore’s high-profile statues linked to the Confederacy, using cranes and trucks to haul away monuments that honored Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Roger B. Taney, author of the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott opinion.
“It’s done,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said Wednesday, according to The Baltimore Sun. “They needed to come down. My concern is for the safety and security of our people. We moved as quickly as we could.”
The city took action as several local groups were preparing their own plans to yank down the statues, in much the same way a Confederate statue was taken down in Durham, N.C., this week.
The organization Coalition of Friends/Tubman House, which had helped to plan a “Do It Like Durham” event for Wednesday using the tagline, “Let’s tear down white supremacy and hate,” says it canceled the event after the statues were removed.
A grassroots coalition that had promoted the event, the Baltimore Bloc, used its Twitter feed to post videos of the statues being taken down on.
The statues have been removed nearly a year after a mayoral commission recommended taking down the public commemorations to Taney at Mount Vernon Place and to Lee and Jackson, who were depicted together on horseback in a monument in the Wyman Park Dell.
That commission had recommended keeping two other artifacts: the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mount Royal Avenue near Mosher Street and the Confederate Women’s of Maryland Monument at Bishop Square Park. But in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend, the city council voted to remove all four monuments.
Councilman Brandon Scott introduced the city’s measure, which called for “the immediate deconstruction of all Confederate Monuments in Baltimore so that they are unable to be placed on public display.”
A photo taken at the scene of the Taney monument Tuesday night shows an information placard titled “Reconciling History.” Behind it, the statue’s pedestal stands empty.
As NPR’s Colin Dwyer reports, the deadly violence in Charlottesville has given new momentum to many cities and states that are pushing to remove monuments to Confederate figures from prominent display.
Adding to the controversy, President Trump has made a series of statements about the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that confused and angered many in the public and in the Republican Party.
Trump initially refused to assign blame for an act that resulted in a murder charge, prompting a flood of criticism. He then called out hate groups on Monday — but on Tuesday, the president reiterated his view that “there’s blame on both sides.”
Millions of Marylanders fought in the Civil War — and nearly three times as many fought for the Union than for the Confederacy. But as the mayoral commission noted, “Baltimore has three public monuments to the Confederacy and only one to the Union.”
The statue of Taney, a Maryland native who became chief justice of the Supreme Court, is a copy of the original that stands in Annapolis. On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement calling for the removal of that statue as well.
Calling it “the right thing to do,” Hogan said, “the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history.”
A bust of Taney that was copied from the Annapolis sculpture stands in the U.S. Capitol’s Supreme Court Chamber.