Councilmembers pass resolution to deconstruct Confederate monuments; two monuments defaced by activists

Councilman Brandon Scott announced on Twitter Sunday night that he would introduce a resolution at tonight's City Council meeting calling for the "destruction" of Confederate monuments in Baltimore City.

And tonight, the resolution passed unanimously (with one major adjustment: the "deconstruction" not the "destruction" of the monuments). When Scott introduced the resolution, he was cheered from the gallery.

Also today, Mayor Pugh pledged to remove the monuments and began looking into the cost (Meanwhile, in Durham tonight, activists pulled a Confederate monument down themselves).

Scott's announcement came a day after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia descended into street fights with anti-fascist protesters, ending with one white nationalist plowing his car into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters, killing one protester and injuring 19.

"Following the acts of domestic terrorism carried out by white supremacist terrorist groups in Charlottesville Virginia this past weekend cities must act decisively and immediately by removing these monuments," the resolution read. "Baltimore has had more than enough time to think on the issue and it's time to act."

The last sentence refers to a commission on the city's Confederate monuments, convened by former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake after Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. After a series of hearings, the commission concluded that two monuments—the Lee-Jackson Monument in Wyman Park and Roger B. Taney Monument in Mount Vernon—should be removed and that the two monuments honoring Marylanders—the Confederate Women's Monument and Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument—should be recontextualized.

Signs were added near all four monuments to discuss their history and acknowledge them as tools of white supremacy, but so far all four monuments remain intact.

Also on Sunday, Councilman Eric Costello sent a letter to the City Solicitor asking to clarify legal entanglements that have kept the monuments in place: namely, that three of the monuments are under easement by the state-run Maryland Historical Trust.

"My hope is that once this clarification is received," the letter reads, "Baltimore City government is positioned to take swift and decisive action based on" the commission's report.

On Sunday evening, following a series of speeches in front of the Lee-Jackson Monument in Wyman Park Dell, where people gathered in opposition to white supremacy and in solidarity with Charlottesville, about 1000 Baltimoreans marched through Charles Village, led by Duane "Shorty" Davis and members of Baltimore Bloc with massive banners which read "Justice for Tyrone West" and "Antifasciste Aktion." Behind them, hundreds wielding "resist" signs, trans pride flags, and more.

As the march approached University Parkway, the chants became more musical—protesters toward the front stomped and clapped to each call and response. When the group returned to the Lee-Jackson Monument, a number of groups introduced themselves for people to stay involved and then, a truck drove up and inside of it, 'Madre Luz,' a massive sculpture by artist Pablo Machioli, of a woman, pregnant, fist up, was pulled off the truck and triumphantly placed in front of the Lee-Jackson monument. The statue first appeared there back in 2015.

And today, two Confederate monuments in Baltimore were defaced. The Lee-Jackson Monument was spray painted with "Black Lives Matter" and marked up with "Remember C-Ville," and Machioli's "Madre Luz" still stands in front of it.

The Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument in Bolton Hill meanwhile, was covered in red paint.

Although the resolution passed today called for "immediate destruction" of the monuments, there's no clear plan for when this would happen or even if it will happen.

As activist group Baltimore Bloc tweeted, "Does immediate have a date?"

Additional reporting by Edward Ericson Jr.

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