Maryland’s Republican governor has switched sides in the debate over whether to remove a statue of Roger B. Taney from the State House in Annapolis.
Hogan said in a statement today that taking down the statue of the Confederate-era Supreme Court chief justice “is the right thing to do.”
“As I said at my inauguration, Maryland has always been a state of middle temperament, which is a guiding principle of our administration,” he said. “While we cannot hide from our history – nor should we – the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history.”
He said his administration “will ask the State House Trust to take that action immediately.”
“The time” that Hogan referenced is a socially fractured one. Three days ago, hundreds of white supremacists descended upon Charlottesville, Va., to defend a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that had been proposed for removal. Counter-protesters showed up, too. What followed was a deadly afternoon of violence in the historic town.
Amid the chaos, a 20-year-old white supremacist drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and wounding 19 others. By the end of the day, two state troopers had also died after their helicopter crashed, and at least 15 others had been injured in other incidents.
In the aftermath, cities and states have been moving to get rid of their Confederate monuments like long-expired perishables. Here in Baltimore, hundreds of residents gathered for a protest at the site of a statue of Lee and his fellow Confederate general Stonewall Jackson in the Wyman Park Dell. Vandals later defaced that statue and another in Bolton Hill.
On Sunday, Councilman Brandon Scott announced he’d authored a resolution calling for the “immediate destruction” of the city’s four controversial statues honoring Confederate leaders, soldiers and families, including a bust of Taney that sits in Mount Vernon. The resolution passed unanimously on Monday night.
Legislative leaders jumped on the bandwagon to get rid of the controversial statue of Taney in Annapolis. Taney’s legacy in modern America isn’t a good one. He was the chief Supreme Court justice who authored the infamous Dred Scott decision in 1857, which determined black people could not become U.S. citizens and that the federal government couldn’t regulate slavery in the states. (It was undone in 1866 by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.)
House Speaker Michael Busch said on Monday that he gave his full support to removing the bust of Taney from the State House front lawn.
His counterpart, Senate President Mike Miller, said in a statement yesterday that he doesn’t support getting rid of Taney’s likeness. He argued the judge wasn’t tied directly to the Confederacy and because he said “there is greater value in educating” the public about the decision. However, he deferred to Hogan, saying, “should he support removal, I will not stand in the way of his decision.”
The governor’s decision is a 180-degree reversal from his feelings from 2015. That summer, he labeled a push to remove Confederate monuments in Maryland as “political correctness run amok.”
“Where do we draw the line?” he posed at a presser, per The Washington Post.