City Clears Art From Confederate Monument

Story Transcript

TAYA GRAHAM, TRNN: In a city with an ever-increasing homicide rate, and dissatisfaction with City Hall evident in ongoing protests, an artistic critique of a monument to the city’s racist past would hardly seem worthy of government intervention. But that is precisely what happened yesterday, when the Baltimore City Police Department along with Parks and Recreation employees removed a sculpture placed at the base of a monument to Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. These pictures, provided by MICA professor Jay Gould, depict the scene as city workers remove the sculpture of a pregnant black woman holding a brick, art intended to bring context to the statue.

A spokesman for the artist, Pablo Machioli, sent us a statement, saying: “The Baltimore Police Department and whoever gave the order to remove it made it plain they care more about preserving the Lee-Jackson monument, dedicated to white supremacy, than art inspired by black resistance to oppression. Their attempt to silence this conversation on the racist public monuments and lack of funding for black artists will only amplify the discussion

LARRY GIBSON: It is during this period, where not only these monuments were created, [of course] throughout the South the principal agenda was reestablishing white supremacy. But in Baltimore it is when, you mentioned, our housing apartheid laws, which we have the shame of it starting in Baltimore, these are the laws that made it a criminal offense starting in 1910, several, for a black to move into a white–a block that was predominantly white.

GRAHAM: The installation was placed amid an ongoing debate about the future of four monuments erected throughout the city, during a time when Baltimore began its historic march towards lasting segregation and racial division.

Last week, a special commission created by Mayor Rawlings-Blake heard testimony regarding the history of the statues, including sociologist James Loewen, who says the symbols of the Civil War were actually erected much later during a period of rising white supremacy.

JAMES LOEWEN: The monuments are the creation of a period of American history that has a name, but most Americans don’t know that name. That’s the nadir of race relations. And that’s this sad period from 1890 all the way to 1940 when the United States, white folks, anyway, went more racist in our thinking than at any other period. That’s when they’re from. We need to understand that about them.

GRAHAM: We asked city police spokesperson Jeremy Silbert for comment on the police presence, but he declined, referring us to another city agency.

This is Taya Graham and Stephen Janis reporting for the Real News Network in Baltimore City, Maryland.

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