All eyes, including those of President Donald Trump, were on Baltimore and Annapolis last week when leaders ordered the removals of longstanding monuments to Confederate leaders.
During an unfiltered speech at a campaign rally last night in Phoenix, Trump told thousands packed into a convention center that officials orchestrating removals of Confederate monuments “are trying to take away our history. And our weak leaders, they do it overnight. These things have been there for 150 years, for 100 years. You go back to a university, and it’s gone. Weak, weak people.”
While the “university” remark could have applied to Duke University, the University of Texas or Bowdoin College, Maryland very likely was in Trump’s sights when he made his remarks. Last week, one day after city council members voted to remove the city’s four controversial monuments to Confederate leaders, soldiers and families, and a Supreme Court chief justice who advanced their cause, Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered overnight extractions of each one.
The oldest statue, a bust of Roger Taney that sat in Mount Vernon, had been around since 1887, while the newest one, depicting Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson mounted on horses, arrived at the Wyman Park Dell in 1948.
Pugh said the next day that given the tense national social climate stirred by a violence white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, “I think it’s very important we move quickly and quietly…and so that’s what I did.”
Within the same week, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Maryland House Speaker Mike Busch orchestrated the removal of a bust of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney outside the State House in Annapolis. And on Monday evening, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman had a stone commemorating Confederate soldiers removed from outside Ellicott City’s circuit courthouse. As with Baltimore’s monuments, both of those removals happened in the wee hours of the night.
Asked about the president’s comments at her press briefing this morning, Mayor Catherine Pugh said she is “praying” for the president, per WBAL.
“I’m praying for him because he needs to understand that love is the answer and not disrespecting anyone,” she said.
Pugh also defended her choice as one that protected public safety, saying, “I didn’t want people walking down my street and making noise and fighting each other and bickering.”
While Baltimore is still sorting out what to do with its Confederate monuments – numerous parties have inquired, but nothing’s set in stone, Pugh said last week – leaders in Annapolis and Howard County have arranged for their transfers to museums.
Kittleman said yesterday that the plan to relocate Howard County’s Confederate memorial to the Howard County Historical Society will provide appropriate historical context about the piece. “We cannot and should not erase the past. We must learn from it.”
This story has been updated.
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