BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore city crews took down confederate monuments across the City overnight.
All four — the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mount Royal Avenue, the Confederate Women’s Monument on West University Parkway, the Roger B. Taney Monument on Mount Vernon Place and the Robert E. Lee and Thomas. J. “Stonewall” Jackson Monument in the Wyman Park Dell — have been removed.
On Monday night, the Baltimore City Council passed a resolution calling for the immediate deconstruction of these monuments, days after a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that drew white nationalists and counter-protesters turned violent.
“Unite the Right” organizers said one of the reasons behind the event was the city’s plan to remove a Robert E. Lee monument from a park there.
One woman died and several were injured when a car was plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters. Shortly after, a Virginia State Police helicopter that officials said was assisting with the rally crashed outside Charlottesville, killing the pilot and a trooper.
WJZ was on the scene for the monument removals in Baltimore, which Mayor Catherine Pugh said began late Tuesday night and finished around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“It’s time that we start a big positive message,” artist Shawn Theron said. “We are making history by putting them in the past, going forward.”
“It’s celebrating slavery, which is just wrong,” Archie McGhee said.
While some praised the mayor for swiftly removing the statues, others are concerned the action has erased parts of history.
“I get very upset by this,” said Raymond Rooks, who is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He said two of his great grandfathers fought for the Confederacy. He calls the removal of the monuments a slippery slope that could start a process of wiping away his culture.
“It’s a great disservice really to all of those soldiers. Confederate soldiers are United States soldiers, and why would anybody disgrace any United States soldier?” he said.
“We don’t go in the library and tear up books and photographs just because we disagree with their view,” said artist Joules.
A state official said the Maryland Historical Trust will work with the City relocate and then restore or persevere all four monuments.
“It’s very powerful, because here you have an African-American female mayor who made the decision to remove this statue… it’s very powerful, very symbolic,” one man told WJZ. He came to see the Lee and Jackson monument being taken down after he got off of work.
“We’ve got a lot to do in the country, but this is a good start,” he continued. “At this moment I’m very proud of what the mayor did and I’m very proud of this city.”
“I don’t think anybody knew they were going to do it right now,” Brendan Mahady said. He says he was very surprised when he came across the dismantling of the monument while on a late-night trip to 7-Eleven.
Still, a rather sizable crowd gathered to watch the crew take the statue off its base in Wyman Park and haul it away.
“It should have happened sooner, I’m pleased that the city made a move,” Christine Manganaro told WJZ‘s Amy Yensi.
“It’s not an erasure of history,” Manganero went on to say. “There’s lots of places where we learn about our history — libraries, archives, public school. This is actually not the site of any significant activity during the Civil War so it’s not a historic site.”
Mayor Catherine Pugh talked about the removal of the memorials at a city hall press conference Wednesday morning.
She says she doesn’t know where the statues are headed quite yet, although she said earlier this week that she would like to see them go to one of Maryland’s confederate cemeteries.
“I mean I was up until 5 o’clock this morning to make sure they got off of those podiums… I wanted them out of the city and I would suspect that they’re out of the city. I’ll find out later on. I’ve been up all night and so right now I’m just trying to stand on my feet.”