After days of calls for the removal of a Confederate monument from the grounds of the Howard County Circuit Court building, County Executive Allan Kittleman ordered it to be taken down late last night.
The monument was removed in the early hours this morning. Photos and videos of its removal were posted to Kittleman's Facebook page, showing workers pulling the monument, which bears the names of 92 Howard County Confederate soldiers, out of the ground in front of the court building and loading it onto a truckbed.
Kittleman said the monument's removal followed a five-day public notice period required before minor alterations could be made to the monument, since it was located in a historic district. The process is stipulated by the Howard County Historic Preservation Commission, and ended at 5 p.m. on Monday . Kittleman took steps to remove the monument immediately following the process' completion.
"It has become increasingly clear in recent weeks that memorials such as this are hurtful to many residents in our community and elsewhere," Kittleman said in a statement. "Given these feelings and the tragedy in Charlottesville, I felt compelled to remove this memorial from public property."
Kittleman said on Tuesday that the monument was currently being held in the county's Dorsey building on Bendix Road while the structure's plaque is removed from the headstone.
Howard County Historical Society Museum Executive Director Shawn Gladden said the museum is now the official owner of the monument, after he signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday — and signed by county officials this morning — stipulating the terms of the transfer.
Gladden said the museum will now begin the process of entering the monument into its collection and determining how to display it as a part of its "Fractured County" Civil War exhibit. He said the monument, which includes names from the Union-turned-Confederate soldier unit the Howard County Dragoons, fits "perfectly" with the theme of the exhibit, which explains how the county was split between Unionists and Confederates.
Photos from the monument removal show workers from Tegeler Monument Company digging up the monument and loading it onto a Tegeler-marked truck. A representative from the company could not be reached to confirm Tegeler had been involved in the removal.
Hours earlier on Monday, a group of more than 30 people gathered to protest the monument's continued existence on county property, calling for its immediate removal. The group, organized by the African American Community Roundtable of Howard County, the Howard County NAACP and the Columbia Democratic Club, was part of a coalition that planned to hold a vigil at the site of the monument every night until it was removed, according to NAACP chapter President Willie Flowers.
"It's time for love to conquer hate," African American Community Roundtable President Larry Walker said during the rally. "This monument is a symbol of the hate of the past, and we as a community have moved far beyond these symbols of hatred."
Flowers said he was glad "everything worked out" to get the monument removed, and to see people from "the bottom to the top" work together to get it done, from the county executive down to the grassroots advocacy level. Now that the Confederate monument is gone, Flowers said he'd like to see the space filled with a monument to civil rights leaders from the county.