Baltimore News

Baltimore Mayor Vetos renaming the Christopher Columbus Obelisk

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Tuesday 17th November 2020
Associated Press

The mayor of Baltimore has vetoed a bill that would have rededicated a Christopher Columbus victim to victims of police violence and told the city police superintendent of concern that the two-story obelisk is too close to a separate memorial honoring fallen officers.

Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young, a Democrat, expressed reservations about the bill in a letter to City Council President Brandon Scott on Monday, The Baltimore Sun reported. Scott is a Democrat, like all councilors.

The newspaper said Young and Police Commissioner Michael Harrison were concerned that the memorial that was about to be renamed was too close to another memorial honoring officials who died on duty.

Harrison first questioned the location of the proposed memorial, which is in the same section of a park as the memorial to Baltimore officials.

"I agree with the commissioner that both monuments are important and that they should be places of reflection and remembrance, free from disturbance and division," quoted The Sun Young's letter.

Councilor Ryan Dorsey, who introduced the legislation, tweeted the letter Monday with a response.

"When cops say they don't want a memorial to victims of police violence near a memorial to the police, it's the Police Planting Department," Dorsey wrote.

His proposal had called for the Columbus obelisk to be converted into a memorial to victims of police violence. The Council approved the measure in September by 11 votes to 4.

The bill was drafted when communities and institutions in Maryland and around the world faced calls for racist legacies, and as many called for the removal of monuments believed to be symbols of inequality. Target items included Confederate monuments and monuments to other historical figures such as Columbus.

A group of protesters in Baltimore this summer toppled another statue of the Italian explorer and threw it into the inner harbor of the city.

Also on Monday, a bill converting Columbus Day into Baltimore Indigenous Peoples Day went into law without Young's signature, The Sun said.

The law changes the vacation in Baltimore, Maryland's largest city.

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