Councilman formally calls for Baltimore’s Confederate monuments to be destroyed

Brandon M. Scott (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott is formally calling for all four of Baltimore’s Confederate-era monuments to be torn down.

In a resolution being introduced Monday, Scott calls for “the immediate destruction of all Confederate Monuments in Baltimore.” In the resolution, he cites the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville over the weekend that left three dead.

“Monuments with ties to the dark side of America’s past have come under increased scrutiny in recent years with cities across the country debating on whether they should be removed,” Scott wrote. “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 has had more than enough time to think on the issue it’s time to act.”

A spokesman for Mayor Catherine Pugh said Sunday the mayor has spoken with mayors around the country who are deciding how to handle monuments in their cities.

“She wants to do what serves the best interests of the citizens of Baltimore,” the spokesman, Anthony McCarthy, said in a statement. “A decision will be made at an appropriate time.”

Baltimore officials have been studying whether to tear down the city’s Confederate monuments since 2015.

Pugh said in May she was considering removing them after New Orleans did so.

“The city does want to remove these,” Pugh told The Baltimore Sun. “We will take a closer look at how we go about following in the footsteps of New Orleans.”

Before former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake left office last year, she added signs in front of four Confederate monuments in Baltimore. The signs said, in part, that the monuments were “part of a propaganda campaign of national pro-Confederate organizations to perpetuate the beliefs of white supremacy, falsify history and support segregation and racial intimidation.”

Pugh suggested in May that the cost of removal could be expensive.

“It costs about $200,000 a statute to tear them down. … Maybe we can auction them?” she said,

The murder of nine African-Americans in the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., by a white supremacist in 2015 revived an ongoing national debate over confederate flags and other symbols.

Rawlings-Blake appointed a commission of academic and officials to review 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.

The commission recommended removing the Taney and Lee and Jackson monuments, and adding signs to the two others.

Members suggested the Lee and Jackson statue be offered to the National Park Service to place in Chancellorsville, Va., where the two Confederate generals last met in 1863. They said the statue of Taney, the chief justice from Maryland who wrote in the notorious Dred Scott decision that African-Americans could not be U.S. citizens, should be discarded.

The commission noted that about 65,000 Marylanders fought for the Union while 22,000 fought for the Confederacy, yet Baltimore has just one public monument to the Union.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan stopped the state from issuing license plates with the image of the Confederate battle flag. Baltimore County officials moved to change the name of Robert E. Lee Park to Lake Roland Park.

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