Emily Crane, Daily Mail, August 16, 2017
Confederate monuments were torn down in Baltimore overnight just days after white nationalists led a deadly protest over the planned removal of a statue in Virginia.
Work crews used heavy machinery to haul the divisive monuments away in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
A monument to Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army in the American Civil War, and Confederate General Stonewall Jackson was dismantled from the city’s Wyman Park Dell.
A crane was pictured removing a monument dedicated to the Confederate Women of Maryland around 3am in Bishop Square Park and placing it on a flatbed truck 45 minutes later.
The monument in Mount Vernon honoring Roger Taney, who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery, was also removed. Another statue for Confederate soldiers and sailors, which was vandalized with red paint at the weekend, was also gone by Wednesday morning.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said crews began removing the city’s Confederate monuments late Tuesday and finished around 5.30am on Wednesday.
‘It’s done,’ Pugh told 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 mayor personally watched as workers removed the statues in the dark. The city council approved the removal of four statues on Monday after a year of indecision about what to do with the monuments.
‘Following the acts of domestic terrorism carried out by white supremacist terrorist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend, cities must act decisively and immediately by removing these monuments,’ Baltimore city councilman Brandon Scott wrote in a resolution calling for the removal of the statues.
‘The folks that are displayed in these monuments were traitors to the United States of America, and we should not honor traitors with monuments.
‘We should not have these anywhere for public display. These monuments are being used as beacons of lightning for vile racism.’
Pugh initially declined on Monday to say when they would come down, saying only that she had contacted two contractors about removing the monuments. She said on Wednesday that the quick overnight action was designed to avoid the violent conflict seen in Charlottesville.
‘I did not want to endanger people in my own city,’ the mayor said.
‘I had begun discussions with contractors and so forth about how long it would take to remove them. I am a responsible person, so we moved as quickly as we could.’
The city is still deciding on what to do with the monuments.
Pugh wants the statues to be placed in Confederate cemeteries elsewhere in Maryland, while other council members have suggested melting them down to ‘honor true Baltimore Heroes’.
A number of residents gathered to watch the monuments being torn down overnight. Some reportedly cheered when the statues were taken away.
‘I’m impressed that it happened so quickly,’ Baltimore resident Bonnie Crawford told WTOP. ‘These monuments tend to glorify people who fought for ideals that actually compromised the lives of citizens in this country.’
The dismantling of the monuments comes after a rally by white nationalists protesting against plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee sparked clashes with anti-racism demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday.
The rally turned deadly when a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 other people.
Saturday’s violence appears to have accelerated the drive to remove memorials, flags and other reminders of the Confederate cause across the United States.
A 22-year-old woman was arrested on Tuesday for taking matters into her own hands after allegedly toppling the Confederate statue in North Carolina with a group of protesters.
Meanwhile a Confederate monument in Birmingham, Alabama was covered up on Tuesday afternoon as authorities considered legal options for it to be removed. The monument at Linn Park was covered in plywood following orders from Birmingham Mayor William Bell.
President Donald Trump caused outrage on Tuesday when he said that neo-Nazis and ‘alt-left’ liberal extremists shared responsibility for the violence.
‘You see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and the baseball bats,’ Trump said in New York, describing hooded counter-protesters who came to Charlottesville to disrupt a white nationalist march.
‘What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?’ he challenged reporters on Tuesday. ‘Do they have any semblance of guilt?’
The president also said ‘I do think there’s blame on both sides’ and that there were ‘very fine people’ in the white nationalist crowd who had ‘a permit’ to protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee.
Trump’s words were quickly denounced by members of his own party as a clumsy attempt to draw moral equivalence between Nazis and liberal activists.
The President insisted Tuesday that many on the political right who gathered in Charlottesville were peaceful protesters themselves who aimed to save the Lee statue from the scrap heap.
‘Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue,’ he said.
‘You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.’
Asked specifically if he thought Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee should be torn down, he said: ‘I would say that’s up to a local town, community or the federal government, depending on where it is located.’
‘This week it’s Robert E. Lee. I notice that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down.
‘I wonder, is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?’