Mayor to 'review' the city's Confederate statues

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake today announced the creation of a "special commission to review all of Baltimore’s Confederate statues and historical assets."

"I believe it is important for us to take a thoughtful, reasoned approach to these Confederate-era monuments, rather than rush to simply 'tear them down' or 'keep them up' in the heat of the moment," she said in a statement. "A special commission, under the guidance and direction of CHAP [Baltimore City Commission For Historical & Architectural Preservation] and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts, will take the time to thoroughly research the background and significance of each of these items and make a recommendation that recognizes and respects the history that we need future generations to understand."

The announcement did not list the statues that the commission will review, but as City Paper noted in its appeal to change the name of Robert E. Lee Park, there are three statues honoring the Confederacy in Baltimore: the Lee and Jackson Monument in Charles Village, which was built in 1948 to honor Lee and fellow Confederate General Stonewall Jackson; the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument (Spirit of the Confederacy) in Station North, which features a winged angel (Glory) lifting a Confederate soldier; and the Confederate Women's Monument at North Charles Street and University Parkway, which features two Confederate women, one holding the body of a fallen soldier.

The Matthew A. Henson Neighborhood Association, a group representing an area that surrounds the Matthew A. Henson Elementary School in Sandtown-Winchester, announced on Facebook a press conference at the Lee and Jackson monument at 5 p.m. today to ask that the statue be taken down. "We are asking for the Mayor & City Council to remove the Robert E. Lee-Stonewall Jackson Statue in Wyman Park," the announcement says in part. "We are not advocating for any destruction or damage of this statue."

On June 22, City Paper posted its appeal and petition to change the name of Robert E. Lee Park in North Baltimore. In a response later that day, the official Baltimore County government Twitter account tweeted that the county would "contact the City regarding the name." On June 25, the county did just that, in a letter from Baltimore County Administrative Officer Fred Homan to the director of the city's Recreation and Parks Department, Ernest Burkeen Jr., and City Solicitor George Nilson, asking the city to change the name of the park to Lake Roland Park.

The Sun reported that the mayor "immediately agreed to work with" Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz on changing the name, but the mayor's office has not responded to City Paper's request for an update.

One possible indication that changes are afoot came yesterday, when the Robert E. Lee Park Nature Council changed its Facebook page for the park to Lake Roland Park.

"Please note that this Facebook page is run by the Nature Council and is not managed or maintained by Baltimore County Recreation and Parks," a post on the page reads. "This page is devoted to promoting activities, education, and enjoyment at Lake Roland Park. The Nature Council is not involved in the decision to change the park's name."

A later comment on the post clarified that, "Regarding the official name change - the county and city are still working through technicalities."

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