Baltimore City Paper

Baltimore's Confederate and white supremacist monuments removed by city overnight

Overnight, all four of Baltimore's monuments connected to the Confederacy and white supremacy were swiftly taken down. First, the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mount Royal Avenue (recently splattered with red paint and tagged with "Fuck Trump") and the Roger B. Taney Monument in Mount Vernon, then the Lee-Jackson Monument in Wyman Park Dell (the site of an anti-racism rally on Sunday night) and finally, the Confederate Women's Monument on West University Parkway.

Word of the low-key removal quickly spread thanks to activist group Baltimore Bloc, and a crowd gathered quickly at Wyman Park Dell—a mix of activists, punks, reporters, and hey, even brilliant Baltimore electronic music duo Matmos for a bit—to watch the massive Lee-Jackson Monument go away for good.

The mood was jovial with the group applauding each step of the removal. Even the police seemed to be in the mood. Capt. Sean Patrick Mahoney of the Baltimore Police joked with the crowd and warned them to be safe.

"Take selfies," he said. "Enjoy it, all right? But be very careful, once that thing starts moving, start taking a walk for me, will you?"

One man who refused to give his name—he said it was "up yours"—was the sole voice of dissent. He said that the city shouldn't be spending money to remove these monuments but on fixing the city's homicide rate. He also had some words for local media, including City Paper.

"You and your liberal City Paper did this crap, you did false reports and lies," he said. "I'll never talk to City Paper or the Baltimore scum."

Mayor Catherine Pugh was also present—spotted across the street from Wyman Park Dell, dressed casual and briefly standing outside of her car, though she made no gesture to the crowd and refused to comment.

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The swift removal of the monuments followed the white supremacist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday. On Monday, a resolution was unanimously passed at City Council to have the monuments deconstructed and Pugh herself declared they would come down but had also groused about the cost. Yesterday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced the Roger Taney statue in Annapolis would come down as well, and Baltimore Bloc and others declared that they would, "Do it like Durham," and organize to remove the Lee-Jackson Monument themselves at 6 p.m. today if it wasn't already removed by then.

Wyman Park Dell too had become a point of almost constant action following Charlottesville. On Sunday, nearly a thousand gathered around the Lee-Jackson Monument and then marched through Charles Village, ending the night by placing an anti-racist sculpture titled "Madre Luz" (Mother Light) in front of the Lee-Jackson Monument. Over the next two days, the sculpture was knocked over in two different incidents. The monument meanwhile, was tagged with, "Black Lives Matter" and "Remember C-Ville," among others.

And yesterday evening, Sean Scott of Owings Mills paced around the Lee-Jackson Monument with a Pan-African flag and a shirt and hat that read "FUCK TRUMP" and chanted, "Donald Trump is a Nazi scumbag," his words echoing through the park and freaking out a few people walking their dogs.

"I'm here especially because of the horrible events in Virginia—um, I actually regret not going but our fake president, Donald Trump, number 45 had a news conference today where he has now equated the opposition me, with inciters of violence, as you see I have not incited any violence, I may have used profanity but I'm peaceful, I'm promising this officer right here I will be peaceful but I need to stand in opposition in outrage," Scott said. "These are monuments to white supremacy, not men of honor. They are enslavers, they fought a war to keep black people as slaves."

After the Lee-Jackson Monument was driven away, activists considered placing "Madre Luz" on the pedestal but yesterday's rain made the sculpture wet and hard to move, and they decided they would do it later on. And some activists, including Payam of Baltimore Bloc and the the Baltimore Spectator, posed on top of the pedestal where the statue once sat and took a few triumphant photos.

Brandon Soderberg

Brandon Soderberg has been writing for the Baltimore City Paper since 2007. He is currently the Deputy Editor and Arts Editor and writes the No Trivia column, which previously ran at SPIN and before that as a personal blog (he also used to write Almost Art, a music video column for Noisey). He is especially interested in moments when the arts collide with race and politics which is often or always if you think about it hard enough. Formerly, he was a contributing writer to SPIN, currently writes for the Comics Journal, the Independent Weekly, and Vice, and has written for, among others, the Museum of Moving Image, Pitchfork, the Village Voice, and the Washington City Paper.