The removal of Confederate monuments is all the rage right now. (And why wouldn’t it be, considering how smoothly it’s going?) After the stunning string of recent successes on that front in more southerly cities, Baltimore, Maryland is ready to get in on the act. Their relatively new Mayor, Catherine Pugh, made the announcement this week. (CBS Baltimore)
After violence erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend in response to the city’s plan to remove a Robert E. Lee statue from a park there, Mayor Catherine Pugh has renewed efforts to remove similar Confederate imagery from Baltimore…
On Monday, Pugh released a statement saying that it is her intention to remove all of Baltimore’s Confederate-era monuments — Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mount Royal Avenue, the Confederate Women’s Monument on West University Parkway, the Roger B. Taney Monument on Mount Vernon Place and the Robert E. Lee and Thomas. J. “Stonewall” Jackson Monument in the Wyman Park Dell.
So we’re talking about four sizable statues, each located in fairly prominent public locations around the city. And they’ve all been there since well before most anyone viewing them today could have been born. But before launching into this project, here are two things which Mayor Pugh may want to make time in her busy schedule to consider.
First of all, surely she is aware that she’s making this announcement less than 48 hours after the Charlottesville riots, right? Baltimore is a city which is currently boasting a violent crime rate on a per capita basis which is second to none across the entire country. There have been literally hundreds of murders there. The populace is well armed (though you’d probably be lucky to find a half dozen people in some of their neighborhoods with a permit according to the police). It’s also the same city which partially went up in flames after the Freddie Gray incident. These people know how to riot and they are no strangers to violence. Is this really the time to schedule an event which will basically be begging to have some ideologically opposed folks showing up for a march and a rally? Any bells going off yet?
The second item strikes a bit more practical tone. Mayor Pugh says she’s been in contact with the Mayor of New Orleans to discuss how they managed to remove their statues, the costs involved and the logistics. Pugh says she’s hoping to speak to the proprietors of some nearby cemeteries with Confederate graves and see if they will take the monuments. Moving four statues in the New Orleans project ran up a bill in the millions of dollars and they had considerable help in the endeavor.
In case she’s forgotten, Mayor Pugh’s budget just had a $26M ax taken to it. They had to lay off one hundred workers from their schools and the police budget (you know… the folks dealing with the massive murder rate) was cut by two million dollars. Where precisely are you going to make millions of dollars appear from so that you can move four monuments from a few parks to a few graveyards?
Baltimore is in a lot of trouble, both financially and in terms of law an order. That’s a result of poor leadership and there is no way to make any excuses for it. The new mayor had a mandate to institute better leadership and solve problems. That’s not what this looks like at all.