Ever since a car driven by a white supremacist allegedly plowed through a street filled with anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, racial tensions across the country have increased dramatically. The most immediate sign of said tension is the increase in calls to remove statues or monuments celebrating the Confederacy in the southern and northeastern United States, where much of the American Civil War was fought. Protesters in Durham, North Carolina took matters into their own hands and tore down a statue on Monday, while political and celebrity figures alike have called for more peaceful means of their removal.
New Orleans led the charge back in April, and with the events in Virginia fresh on everyone’s mind, Baltimore, Maryland followed suit late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning when a crew removed four Confederate statues. Per the New York Times, three of the four statues removed included a “double equestrian” figure of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument, and the Roger B. Taney statue.
While the violence in Charlottesville did influence the overnight removal, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s order to remove the statues came as a result of a City Council vote on Monday calling for their removal. What’s more, Baltimore’s city government had been considering the statues’ removal ever since the 2015 mass shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, where known white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine African-American churchgoers in cold blood. Even so, Pugh and her colleagues opted for the overnight approach — one so secretive, local NBC affiliate WBAL TV only found out when viewers began calling in.
Local reporters documented the statues’ removal, which were largely cheered by the impromptu crowds that gathered to witness it.
Even Mayor Pugh came out to observe one of the monuments’ removal.