As It Happens

'You don't go to Germany and see statues of Hitler': Baltimore removes Confederate monuments

Baltimore Coun. Brandon Scott explains why the city removed four Confederate statues in the dead of night.
Baltimore Coun. Brandon Scott says removing the city's Confederate statues quietly overnight was the best way to avoid violence. (Brandon M. Scott For Baltimore/Facebook )

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Baltimore city officials quietly removed four Confederate statues in the dead of night, hoping to avoid the kind of violence that plagued Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.

Heather Heyer, 32, was killed on Saturday when a car rammed into a group of counter-protesters during a white nationalist rally to protest a Confederate statue's pending removal.

"What our mayor was doing — and I want to go on record again to say I want to thank her for her swift and thoughtful leadership — was trying to avoid some of the things we've seen going on in other places," Baltimore Coun. Brandon Scott told As It Happens guest host Mike Finnerty.

In the early hours of Wednesday, Baltimore crews pulled down:

  • A statue of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson.
  • A Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
  • A Confederate Women's Monument.
  • A statue of Roger Taney, the Supreme Court justice whose 1857 ruling upheld slavery and denied citizenship to African-Americans. 

"You don't go to Germany and see statues of Hitler out in public places. You're just not going to do that. You don't go to Iraq and see statues of Saddam Hussein," Scott said. "And these folks should be treated just like they are treated."

Read more of Scott's conversation with Finnerty about the city's decision:

Were the events in Charlottesville the catalyst that finally got these statues down?

It's something that Baltimore had been discussing before and the mayor was already working on, but I think that after you saw these acts of terrorism that were carried out on Saturday, every city in every state across the country is looking at trying to do that and do it with haste.

Maryland never voted to leave the union. Why were there all these statues there for folks who don't know?

Historically, whenever there's progress, especially on fronts of racism, you have folks who try to break that down. 

So while you're making that progress on civil rights, these statues are put up by folks who want to remind black people, women, Jews that they believe that we are less than them. 

For you, what did the statues symbolize?

The statues symbolize slavery. They symbolize me not being on equal footing with any other races in our country. And they symbolize traitors — because that's exactly what these people were.

The empty pedestal where a statue of former U.S. Supreme Court justice Roger B. Taney once stood. ((Jerry Jackson/the Baltimore Sun via Associated Press)

The people that want those statues to remain in place say whether you disagree or not, they're part of history. Donald Trump yesterday at a news conference, he said: "Who's next? So will George Washington now lose his status, his statue?" What do you say to those arguments?

What Mr. Trump is trying to do, as he always does, is try to divert folks from the real conversation. And the real conversation we should be having right now is that we had acts of domestic terrorism carried out on American soil, which he refused to denounce immediately, and didn't do that until pressured tremendously by the American people.

The history is always going to be the history. These folks are always going to be remembered inside of American history books. You don't have to have a monument.

Based on their logic, then the United States government should go around putting up monuments of black people hanging from trees to remind Americans how many black people were lynched in America. 

One of the members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a woman named Carolyn Billups, says: "Rats run at night." How do you respond to that?

I will simply remind her that many of the members of the Confederacy turned out to be members of the Klu Klux Klan and they were often known to be running at night. So, yeah, she's right. Rats do run at night.