Good Riddance

by: Sean Yoes Baltimore AFRO Editor syoes@afro.com
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Some have lurked from grassy knolls for more than a century, monuments only to White supremacy in the minds of many. But, by early Wednesday morning, the toppling of all four of the city’s Confederate monuments was finished.

The Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee statue in Wyman Dell, near the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument, on Mt. Royal Avenue, the Confederate Women’s Monument on University Parkway, near Johns Hopkins University, and the Roger B. Taney Monument in Mt. Vernon are no more.

Perhaps, the most revered of Baltimore’s Confederate monuments by Confederate sympathizers and White supremacists, the Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee Confederate Monument is no more. In front of it’s empty pedestal, “Madre Luz” (Mother Light), a statue crafted by artist Pablo Machioli last year in protest of the Confederate Monuments, stands battered, yet triumphant. (Photo credit: Sean Yoes)

Supreme Court Justice Taney was not a part of the Confederacy, but his infamous Dred Scott Decision (which maintained Scott, a slave, was not a human being) was in many ways a monument to the institution of slavery and ultimately, White supremacy.

City workers took down the the monuments and whisked them out of town, after the Baltimore City Council voted unanimously on Aug. 14 for the removal of all four statues. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh ultimately signed the legislation. Councilman Brandon Scott (D-2nd Dist.) introduced the resolution for the removal of the statues.

“I think…once what happened in Charlottesville happened, we started to take a quicker look at this,” Scott said. “When you have the entire City Council saying we want them down now…the mayor responded,” Scott added.

The Mayor’s Office said Mayor Pugh observed the take down of the monuments and expressed concern for the safety of Baltimore residents in light of the murderous violence in Charlottesville. She did not want the removal process to become politicized, according to a spokesman. On Tuesday, Baltimore political activists had threatened to topple the statues if the city did not act.

“I think the message we are sending is, we as a city will not be apologist to domestic terrorists, who want to re-write history and portray traitors as heroes,” Scott said. “We’re not going to stand for it.”

On Tuesday, Donald Trump during a rambling and combative press conference from Trump Towers in New York again, placed blamed for the violence in Charlottesville on, “both sides,” the neo-Nazis, White supremacists and klansmen who terrorized the Virginia college town, and those who opposed them.

“As far as the 45th President, we are telling him he is not fit to be a leader and we’re showing him what leadership is really like,” Scott said.

In Annapolis, Republican Governor Larry Hogan seemed to pave the way recently for the removal of the Taney statue near the State House.

“While we cannot hide from our history — nor should we — the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history,” Hogan said in a statement. “With that in mind, I believe removing the Justice Roger B. Taney statue from the State House grounds is the right thing to do, and we will ask the State House Trust to take that action immediately.”

Larry S. Gibson, University of Maryland law professor and Baltimore civil rights historian, led the commission that recommended the removal of the Jackson-Lee and Taney monuments and the historic re-contextualization of the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors and the Confederate Women’s Monument.

“These monuments were erected in an aggressive campaign to perpetuate myths about the Civil War and to reestablish White supremacy in the South and border states,” Gibson who voted for the removal of all four statues at the conclusion of the commission’s work during the administration of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, told the {AFRO}. “The removal of these monuments is long overdue,” he added.

Gibson voted for the removal of all four statues at the conclusion of the commission’s work during the administration of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Rawlings-Blake assembled the commission in September 2015 in the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina massacre of eight members of the Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. Church and their pastor Clementa C. Pinckney by a White supremacist and Confederate sympathizer.

“Today is a glorious day,” Gibson exclaimed. “This is the first day that we are living in a city without the stench of monuments glorifying the treasonous Confederacy.”

AFRO reporter Deborah Bailey contributed reporting to this story.

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