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Baltimore mayor eyes removal of Confederate monuments

Photo: Mayor Catherine Pugh/CNN Wire

WASHINGTON — Baltimore may follow “in the footsteps of New Orleans” and remove the city’s Confederate monuments, the city’s mayor says.

“The city does want to remove these,” Catherine Pugh told reporters after a news conference on Friday. “We’ll take a closer look at it and see how we go about the business of following in the footsteps of New Orleans.”

Her remark comes just a week after New Orleans removed its fourth and final Confederate monument.

In a speech about the removal of the monuments, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said they were landmarks that were not a true reflection of the city.

“To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in our more prominent places — in honor — is an inaccurate recitation of our full past, is an affront to our present and it is a bad prescription for our future,” he said.

The effort to remove New Orleans’ monuments has helped ignite a nationwide debate over Confederate symbols.

Baltimore has been considering the removal of its Confederate statues for over a year.

Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake appointed a special commission in 2015 to study what to do with Baltimore’s four Confederate-era monuments.

They are the 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.

In its report, issued in August 2016, the special commission recommended removing two — the Taney and Lee/Jackson monument — of the four.

As Supreme Court chief justice, Taney led the infamous Dred Scott decision a few years before the Civil War. It found that slaves were not citizens of the United States and therefore were not protected under the US Constitution. The 13th and 14th amendments, which were adopted in 1865 and 1868, formally outlawed slavery and granted citizenship “to all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves.

Rawlings-Blake, who left office last year, ended up enacting a short-term resolution. She directed that “interpretive signage” be added in front of the monuments.

In the news conference, Pugh said the removal of Confederate monuments is “another one of those things we will tackle.” She pointed to the cost — about $200,000 — of removing a statue, and suggested the city could perhaps auction off the statues.

Pugh’s spokesman, Anthony McCarthy, told CNN Monday that the mayor will look at the recommendations made to Rawlings-Blake.

“Then she will make a determination on where she will go from there,” he said.