When will the fate of Baltimore’s Confederate monuments be decided?
Six months after a blue ribbon commission recommended what to do with Baltimore’s four monuments related to the Confederacy, one of the commissioners is asking when the mayor’s office will respond to its report.
“We are being told that our report to the mayor’s office is being reviewed by the mayor’s office. It all seems to be going a bit backwards,” said Larry Gibson, a member of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s Special Commission to Review Baltimore’s Confederate Monuments.
Gibson expressed his frustration yesterday during a public session of Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, another board on which he serves. He told fellow commissioners that every time he asks when the monuments commission will hear something about its report, he is told they’ll hear something in two weeks.
“Are we still on two weeks?” he asked yesterday. “We’re been on two weeks for the last three months.”
Rawlings-Blake announced the formation of a panel to study the city’s four Confederate monuments in June of 2015, making Baltimore one of the first cities to form a separate panel to look at its holdings.” It is important that we recognize the delicate balance between respecting history and being offensive,” she said at the time.
The monuments in question are: the Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson Monument in Wyman Park; the statue of Roger B. Taney in Mount Vernon Place; the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Bolton Hill, and the Confederate Women of Maryland Monument near University Parkway and Charles Street.
The seven-member panel met starting in September of 2015 and held its final public meeting on January 14, 2016. At that time, it revealed its recommendations. They called for de-accessioning the Jackson and Lee monument and the Taney statue and keeping the other two monuments where they are but adding “context” or otherwise activating the sites in ways that enable viewers to understand them from a contemporary perspective.
The recommendations were outlined in a draft report that was delivered to the mayor after the final public meeting. The understanding was that the mayor would consider the commission’s recommendations and make a final decision about what to do with the monuments.
The status of the Confederate monuments was not listed as an item for discussion at the CHAP meeting yesterday, but Gibson brought it up anyway. He said he thought the commission would have learned how the mayor’s office responded to its recommendations by now, and he doesn’t understand why it’s taking so long. “It does not seem to be appropriate, in light of all the time people put in on the commission, and all the people who expressed their views at public meetings,” he said.
Eric Holcomb, executive director of CHAP and one of the staffers to the monuments commission, said he would convey Gibson’s remarks to the mayor’s office.
“I am going to make sure that folks are aware of your concerns,” he said.