Out on the edge of Herring Run Park in Baltimore, Maryland stands a very old monument in the shape of an Egyptian obelisk. It’s known as the Columbus Obelisk and it has stood in commemoration of the explorer Christopher Columbus since 1792. (For all of you trivia fans, it’s the oldest memorial to Columbus in the United States.) It sustained a small amount of damage to the plaques at the base dedicated to Columbus during the riots, but it’s otherwise in fairly good shape.
But if a new measure being considered in Baltimore this month goes into effect, it will no longer stand as a tribute to Columbus. Activists want it to be repurposed as a monument to people killed during lethal force encounters with the police. The fact that it stands only a short distance from another monument dedicated to law enforcement officers who have fallen in the line of duty makes this a particularly disturbing prospect for first responders, their families and their supporters. (Baltimore Sun)
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said Monday he’s concerned about a City Council bill to create a monument for victims of police violence that would be near a monument to fallen officers.
The council is expected to consider the bill Monday night, though it still would need another vote and the mayor’s signature before going into effect.
City Councilman Ryan Dorsey introduced legislation that would rename the Columbus Obelisk monument in Herring Run Park to the “Victims of Police Violence Monument.”
The bill passed the City Council on a 10-4 vote on Monday evening. It still requires a second reading before the Council during their next full session on October 5th and would then require the signature of the Mayor if it passes again. Neither of those steps currently look like a major hurdle for the proposed law.
The three aspects of this proposal currently causing contention are all valid reasons for concern and such a plan likely would never have made it this far in more “normal” times. But since this is 2020 and everything is turning to garbage, their odds of success look pretty good.
The first question involves erasing (canceling) the oldest memorial to Columbus in the country. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be hard to do because of the design of the monument as I noted above. The plaques honoring Columbus could be fairly readily replaced with new ones honoring “Victims of Police Violence” and the rest of the obelisk could be left as is. But when you consider that not only is Christopher Columbus a historic figure as an explorer, but he never set foot in North America, to say nothing of enslaving the Indigenous People who were living here, social justice warrior attacks on him are sketchy at best. And even if you consider him a “complex” figure when looked at in 21st-century terms, he’s part of our history and our ancestry.
I would also challenge the need for a separate monument generically honoring the “victims of police violence.” The vast, vast majority of suspects who wind up dying after lethal-force encounters with law enforcement officers are criminals who are in the process of threatening the lives of police officers or nearby civilians. Do you really believe they deserve a memorial? Most other cases wind up being terrible and regrettable accidents. The exceedingly rare cases of rogue, racist cops killing minority suspects don’t add up to any sort of legion. If you wanted a memorial to a specific victim who died under such circumstances, such as Walter Scott, that would be fine. But at least make it specific.
And finally, even if you agree that such a monument is needed, it’s a major slap in the face to put it within spitting distance of a monument dedicated to officers who have fallen in the line of duty. They are almost always the ones who might have wound up being accused by the woke brigade after a lethal-force encounter, but the bad guys got to them first. This disrespect on display in the City Council should cause them all shame. And if the Baltimore Police aren’t already tired of being treated in this fashion, they certainly should be after this.