While small crowds gathered around Baltimore’s Confederate monuments in the early hours of Wednesday morning, there was a “celebratory mood” as city officials removed the old bronze memorials from public squares and parks.
Following violent protests in Charlottesville — about 150 miles from Baltimore — in Maryland’s neighboring state, Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered the immediate uprooting and removal of the city’s Confederate cenotaphs.
Moments after Midnight on Wednesday morning, a team of city parks crew members and local police officers began the laborious process of dislodging the statues from their pedestals to load them onto trucks that would take them to a storage facility.
Statues of Robert E. Lee – the same general that is memorialized in Charlottesville where white nationalists gathered to protect his likeness – and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson had been toppled by 3:30 a.m., shortly followed by monuments of Confederate generals and soldiers in other parts of the city.
Another alloyed historical figure that was banished from the city was Roger B. Taney, a 19th century Supreme Court justice who once ruled that no black people, not even freed slaves, were allowed to claim American citizenship.
The final evictee was the Confederate Women’s Monument that has stood in Baltimore since 1917.
Despite happening when most Baltimore residents were asleep, the operation was not intended to be a secret. In fact, according to the editor-at-large of the Baltimore City Paper, Baynard Woods, the police officers were encouraging spectators to document the event on their mobile phones.
“The police are being cheerful and encouraging people to take photos and selfies.”
Woods described the scene, where small crowds of anti-Confederate activists had gathered, as having a “celebratory mood,” as he documented the procedure via Twitter.
James MacArthur, a social media user, was present to live-stream the perfunctory removals of the General Lee and Jackson monument. Other locals climbed atop the empty pedestal to celebrate the moment.
And there they go. Lee and Jackson sailing through air onto flatbed truck in Baltimore at 3:40 AM. An amazing sight. pic.twitter.com/4SzRYRiVOB— Alec MacGillis (@AlecMacGillis) August 16, 2017
Baltimore’s City Council had already voted to remove the statues, following nearly two years of deliberations. The debate was launched in the city’s chambers after white supremacists, Dylann Roof, massacred a group of congregants inside an African-American church in Charleston.
A Baltimore city council member, Brandon M. Scott, voiced his opinion that the deposed statues should be completely destroyed as opposed to simply being stored away from the public eye.
“These people were terrorists. They were traitors. Why are we honoring them?”
Therefore, Mayor Pugh was sufficiently empowered to make the order for the removal of the Confederate monuments. Upon Ms. Pugh’s insistence, a team of police officers was mandated to escort and assist the crews during the removal process safely.
According to the New York Times, local police have confirmed the removals.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]