City Council swiftly approved removal of monuments after death of civil rights activist at Charlottesville protest
Confederate-era monuments have been taken down in the middle of the night in Baltimore.
Journalists in the city in Maryland, US, tweeted that the statues were being removed days after a city council vote on the issue.
The memorials in the city include 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.
Confederate-era monuments fell back into the spotlight at the weekend when a civil rights activist died during violence at a far-right protest in Charlottesville, Virginia against plans to removal of a statue of Robert E Lee, who commanded the Confederate army of northern Virginia.
Journalist Baynard Woods posted video of the Taney and Women’s monuments being driven away.
Alec MacGillis, another journalist, posted images of the Jackson and Lee statues being taken down.
The former Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the creation of a special commission to review all of Baltimore’s Confederate statues and historical assets in June 2015.
Maryland, a slave-owning state, remained in the union during the civil war, which was fought from 1861-65. But Rawlings-Blake’s commission noted that though 65,000 Marylanders fought for the north, 22,000 fought for the Confederacy.
Other cities and states accelerated their plans to remove Confederate monuments following the violence in Virginia.
Only two statues were taken down immediately, in Gainesville, Florida, where the Daughters of the Confederacy removed a statue of a Confederate soldier known as “Ole Joe”, and in Durham, North Carolina, where protesters used a rope to pull down a Confederate monument dedicated in 1924.
Meanwhile in Birmingham, Alabama, the city used a wooden structure to cover up a Confederate monument in a downtown park on Tuesday night. Legislators passed a law earlier this year prohibiting the removal of structures including rebel memorials. So Birmingham mayor William Bell ordered the city’s 52-foot-tall Confederate obelisk covered with wooden panels.
Leaders of a New York Episcopal diocese said they would remove two plaques honouring Lee from a church property in Brooklyn.
Donald Trump defended Confederate statues in his wide-ranging remarks at Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday evening.
“This week it’s Robert E Lee. I notice that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down,” Trump said. “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?”
Asked specifically whether Charlottesville’s Lee statue should come down, he said: “I would say that’s up to a local town, community or the federal government, depending on where it is located.”
The US president also insisted that not all of those participating in the Unite the Right protest in Charlottesville on Saturday were neo-Nazis or white supremacists, drawing a rebuke from senior Republicans and praise from David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who was at the protest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
- This article was amended on 16 August 2017 to state that Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was the former, not the current, mayor of Baltimore.
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