In an overnight operation, Baltimore removed four Confederate monuments from the city, rushing to get them down in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The removals came hours after President Trump defended the white nationalist demonstrators who rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, in unrest over the weekend that led to the death of one 32-year-old woman and two Virginia state troopers.
The statues were taken down at the order of Mayor Catherine Pugh with the unanimous support of the city council, which passed a resolution on Monday. Pugh told the Baltimore Sun she was surprised that more hadn’t been done to remove the statues before her term.
“I am a responsible person, so we moved as quickly as we could,” she said.
A small group of contractors took the monuments down with cranes, guarded by police and flanked by a small TV crew, a few night-owl activists, and Pugh, who told the Baltimore Sun that she personally watched the statues come down.
The four statues removed were:
- Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson Monument, which showed the two Confederate generals on horseback, put up in 1948.
- Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which depicts the allegorical figure of “Glory” holding a dying Confederate soldier in one arm and a laurel crown in the other, built in 1903.
- Roger B. Taney Monument, depicting the Supreme Court chief justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which affirmed that black Americans had no claim to citizenship, built in 1887. While Taney wasn’t officially a member of the Confederacy, he stood as a symbol for the support of slavery.
- Confederate Women’s Monument, which celebrate the role of women in the Civil War, dedicated in 1917.
The monuments were put on flatbed trucks and escorted out of town by police.
On Wednesday morning, all that was left of the city’s Confederate monuments were a handful of empty pedestals. As a result of the removals, no symbols of the Confederacy remain on public grounds in Baltimore.
In front of the Lee-Jackson monument, activists erected a monument of their own:
Councilman Brandon Scott put forward the city council measure that called for “the immediate deconstruction of all Confederate monuments in Baltimore so that they are unable to be placed on public display.”
The issue had been debated by the city council since 2015 after a white supremacist killed innocent people at a historic black church in South Carolina.
It’s not yet clear what will be done with the monuments, though the mayor has suggested moving them to a Confederate cemetery nearby.
“It’s done,” Pugh said Wednesday morning, according to 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 removals came hours after Trump reaffirmed his initial remarks on the Charlottesville protests that “many sides” were responsible for the violence. On Monday, he condemned (reading from prepared remarks) white supremacist groups, and on Tuesday spoke off the cuff at a press gathering at Trump Tower, reasserting that he believed there was “blame on both sides.”