Baltimore Takes Down Confederate Monuments Overnight
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh decided on Tuesday to have all Confederate statues in the city removed before the sun rose the next morning. In the aftermath of last weekend’s white supremacist march and the ensuing clashes that killed one person and injured 19 others in Charlottesville, Va., the Baltimore City Council unanimously passed a resolution to remove the memorials after more than a year of indecision about what to do with them.
“We moved quickly and quietly,” the mayor told The Baltimore Sun. “There was enough grandstanding, enough speeches being made. Get it done.”
The Sun continued:
Crews removed the monuments unannounced, under cover of darkness between 11:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., in an effort to act quickly and avoid the potential for any violent conflicts similar to the ones in Charlottesville, Pugh said.
Protesters, who held a rally at the Robert E. Lee-“Stonewall” Jackson Monument at Wyman Park Dell near Johns Hopkins University Sunday, had pledged to tear down that statue themselves Wednesday night if the city didn’t. A group in Durham, N.C., toppled a Confederate statue there on Monday.
“It’s done,” Pugh said Wednesday morning. “They needed to come down. My concern is for the safety and security of our people. We moved as quickly as we could. … I did not want to endanger people in my own city.”
It has not been decided what will happen to the removed statues, but Pugh says she thinks that replacing them with historical markers explaining the significance of the monuments and their removal would be appropriate.
The pedestals were left in place—the one under the Lee and Jackson monument still reads, “They were great generals and Christian soldiers and waged war like gentlemen.” CBS Baltimore posted a video of the Lee and Jackson monument being hauled away. Another statue taken down was of Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the Dred Scott decision.
NPR reported that the violence in Charlottesville has prompted many of the nation’s mayors to action:
And within three days, politicians in a number of cities, far from protecting their own Confederate monuments, had instead moved to hasten their removal. In Baltimore and Jacksonville, Fla., in Memphis and Lexington, Ky., local leaders acted to begin getting rid of these long-standing landmarks.
“Mayors are on the razor’s edge. When you see the tension. When you see the violence that we saw in Charlottesville,” Lexington Mayor Jim Gray told a local CBS affiliate, “then you know that we must act.”
He said Sunday he has recommended to the city council that the statues depicting Confederate officers John C. Breckinridge and John Hunt Morgan be relocated to a new site where they would stand side by side with “two monuments to the Union effort.” In their current location, the Confederate monuments stand on land that formerly played host to one of the South’s largest slave auction blocks.
“It’s just not right that we would continue to honor these Confederate men who fought to preserve slavery on the same ground as men, women and even children were once sold into a life of slavery,” Gray said in a video statement. “Relocating these statues and explaining them is the right thing to do.”
The movements to topple the statues stem in part from widespread confusion and anger at President Trump’s insistence that “there’s blame on both sides” of the Charlottesville terror attack.