Maryland governor tells Baltimore city leaders to regain control of their streets
By Cassie B. // Jul 09, 2020

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan reminded Baltimore city leaders on Sunday of their duty to protect their citizens in a firm warning that came on the heels of the toppling of a statue in honor of Christopher Columbus there on the 4th of July.


In a statement, Hogan said that although peaceful protests and conversations about relocating certain monuments through legal processes are welcome, vandalism, property destruction and lawlessness are not.

He said: “This is the antithesis of democracy and should be condemned by everyone, regardless of their politics. Baltimore City leaders need to regain control of their own streets and immediately start making them safer.”

Not everyone welcomed the sentiment, with a spokesperson for Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, Lester Davis, saying the criticism was “not productive and not helpful.”

He made it clear the protecting the statue was not a priority, telling the Baltimore Sun that the acts are part of a "re-examination taking place nationally and globally around some of these monuments and statues that may represent different things to different people.”

He stated that Baltimore's police officers are mainly concerned with preserving lives and that everything else is secondary, including statues. He said that they understand people’s frustrations and that the city wants to serve as a national model. He added that they are going to continue to support those who take to the streets.

On Saturday night, violent rioters toppled the monument to Christopher Columbus in the city's Little Italy neighborhood with ropes before smashing it in two and then rolling the pieces into the city's Inner Harbor. Protestors demanded the reallocation of funds from police departments to social services, a reassessment of public education, housing for the homeless, and reparations for black people as they marched across the city.

As they made their way past modern apartments and high-end grocery stores, they chanted “Black people used to live here” before heading back to the vacant pedestal that had been occupied by the Columbus statue to applaud themselves for taking it down.

Davis said he was not sure whether police officers had been ordered to allow the statue's removal. However, City Council President Brandon Scott stated that he had told former mayor Catherine Pugh that the statue should be removed in 2017 when several Confederate monuments were removed in the city in the wake of violent conflict in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The statue, which is made of Italian Carrara marble, was dedicated in 1984 by former President Ronald Reagan and former mayor William Donald Schaefer. It showed Columbus facing eastward into the rising sun, which is the direction his boats arrived from, and it’s the site of a yearly wreath-laying ceremony in honor of Columbus Day.

Columbus statues being vandalized and removed across the nation

The 15th century Italian explorer, who has long been credited with the discovery of America, has been a topic of controversy as protests over monuments that honor American historical figures rage on across the country. Columbus statues have also been vandalized or toppled in cities like Boston, Miami, St. Paul and Richmond. Meanwhile, a statue in Rochester, New York, of black abolitionist Frederick Douglass was also knocked down over the weekend.

Last month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that will protect memorials, statues and monuments. The order puts the penalties for the willful destruction of federal property at as much as 10 years in jail. This was followed up by another executive order in July announcing that the administration would be rebuilding and building monuments that honor American heroes such as Douglass.

While these orders may help protect statues, the reality is that out-of-control mobs are capable of wreaking far greater destruction than simply knocking down statues if left unchecked. What will happen next if mayors like Jack Young in Baltimore are unwilling to keep their streets under control?

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