BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As a nationwide debate over the Confederate flag continues to rage, there’s a new push to remove Confederate statues here in Baltimore—but are they symbols of slavery or historic landmarks? The mayor will form a commission to decide just that.

Meghan McCorkell has more from both sides of the debate.

There are more than half a dozen Confederate-era statues in Baltimore. Now a panel will look into whether they will stay or go.

Along the side of Art Museum Drive is a monument many haven’t noticed.

“Many of us have passed this monument over and over, countless times,” said one.

The giant statue depicts Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Now activists say it, and other Confederate-era memorials, should come down.

“This is a city park. It does not need to be here. This basically is symbolism of racism, of slavery,” said community activist Marvin “Doc” Cheatham.

The move comes as the governor pursues action to recall Confederate license plates and the city considers renaming Robert E. Lee Park.

Just last week, the Spirit of the Confederacy statue in Station North was vandalized. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” was spray-painted on the side of it.

“We have a nasty history when it comes to race relations and it’s time to make some improvements,” Cheatham said.

But the leaders with the Sons of Confederate Veterans say the memorials are not about racism.

“They are symbols of history. The history of Baltimore, events in Baltimore and they were erected by people who had a passion for this history,” said Jay Barringer.

Now Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will appoint a special commission to look into whether the monuments should stay or go.

“My hope is with public conversation and hearing from experts, we’ll find a solution that makes sense for Baltimore,” she said.

The commission will be made up of art and history experts, as well as community members. The mayor is hoping to receive recommendations within six months.

The commission may recommend anything from preservation of the statues to their removal. Activists who want the statues removed are stressing they do not want anyone defacing or vandalizing any of the memorials.

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