According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 113 Confederate memorials have been removed as of June 2020, but as of this writing, over 1700 remain. Recent removal and destruction of statues worldwide has resulted from public anger at the presence of statues of colonialist and racist individuals, and the racist incidents, hate crimes, murders and demonstrations encouraged by these portrayals.
After Charleston, South Carolina’s mass church shooting in 2015, former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, with the unanimous affirmative vote of Baltimore’s City Council, ordered the removal of three statues: the Jackson and Lee statue; the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument and the Confederate Women’s Monument. As they were cut down from their bases, members of an activist group sang, “Baltimore, Get Out of the Way,” recalling the Bob Dylan song, “The Times They Are A-Changin’” urging the old to get out of the way of the younger generation and its ideals. A fourth statue, of Roger Taney, the former Supreme Court Justice who wrote the Dred Scott decision declaring that Blacks were not free citizens of the United States of America, was removed from its base in Annapolis.
The killing of George Floyd while in police custody—and the demonstrations in reaction to Floyd’s death — has impelled the removal of divisive statues of Confederates and racist individuals responsible for colonizing Indigenous people, enslaving Black people and furthering the slave trade.