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Monument removal sets a bad precedent

The state agency charged with protecting Maryland’s history has concluded that Baltimore officials didn’t have the legal authority to remove three statues commemorating the Confederacy and says it reserves the right to order the city to put them back. (Baltimore Sun video)

Once again this city has embarrassed us. Maryland Historic Trust Director Elizabeth Hughes has made it clear our mayor acted without proper authority in removing Baltimore's Confederate monuments ("Baltimore lacked authority to take down Confederate statues, and state says it could — but won't — order them restored," Oct. 26). I totally agree that Mayor Catherine Pugh's midnight ride "to protect the safety" of Charm City citizens was overkill. The repercussions will be with us for a long time to come.

Although Mayor Pugh cited the dangerous chaos in Charlottesville as her reason, I don't recall any civil disturbance taking place here in August. Furthermore, the City Council rules were suspended so that Councilman Brandon Scott's bill could be rushed through and provide justification for removal these monuments. Incidentally Mr. Scott's choice of the word "deconstruction" in the actual document is questionable

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Since I was involved with former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake commission to determine the fate of these monuments, I was disappointed the commission's position was never taken into account. Many of us who spoke at the City Hall public hearing recommended the Confederate monuments be used as a teaching tool about Maryland's position during the Civil War. And as a descendant of a Union Civil War veteran, I felt it important future generations recognize the statues as an example of Baltimore's divided loyalties.

It's unlikely the Confederate artwork will be returned, but as a city taxpayer, I'd like to know how much this kerfuffle is costing us. I doubt Whiting Turner executives provided the hoists and trucks as a pro bono gesture. I hope The Sun, under a Public Information Act request, will let us see that work order. Also the statues have been hidden somewhere and are under police guard, taxpayers should be informed about that expense as well.

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City Solicitor Andre Davis stated the city has not responded formally to the Maryland Historic Trust's conclusion, and I'm looking forward to read what we'll say. Furthermore the city solicitor needs to take a long, hard look at the way Councilman Scott's bill was expedited and acted upon so swiftly. In my opinion, it set a very dangerous precedent.

Roz Heid, Baltimore

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