Monuments to figures associated with slavery have been removed from several US cities since last weekend’s violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
In Maryland the authorities took down a statue of a 19th century chief justice. Roger Taney wrote the 1857 pro-slavery Dred Scott decision which denied citizenship to African Americans. The decision read in part: “The negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit”.
Civil rights activists and some Maryland lawmakers had long protested against the statue of Taney, whose decision has been described by legal scholars as one of the worst in the Supreme Court’s history.
The bronze statue, erected in 1872, was lifted away by a crane at about 2am on Friday in the state capital Annapolis, lowered into a truck and driven away to storage. The nighttime operation attracted only a small crowd, some witnesses cheering the statue’s removal.
Maryland’s Republican Governor Larry Hogan had called on Wednesday for the monument to be taken down immediately.
President Trump has sided with white nationalists in decrying the removal of such monuments, drawing widespread criticism including from senior Republicans.
A statue of a Confederate soldier in North Carolina known as “Silent Sam” is also in the sights of campaigners who have launched an online petition calling for its removal.
In Mississippi the past few days’ events have revived efforts by lawmakers to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the last state flag in the US to feature it. “The confederate battle emblem continues to be associated with attitudes of bigotry, hatred and racial superiority,” Mississippi’s Republican Speaker of the House Philip Gunn wrote on Facebook on Monday.
However, although opponents decry it as a racist symbol, the flag’s supporters say the banner represents history and heritage.