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Baltimore Protestors Who Toppled Columbus Statue Will Be “Held Accountable,” Mayor Young Says


Mayor Jack Young said Thursday that protestors who tossed a downtown Baltimore statue of Christopher Columbus into the Inner Harbor engaged in destruction of property and will be brought to justice. 

“We support peaceful protests. That is not a peaceful protest,” the Democrat said at a Thursday news conference. “When we find out who destroyed the statue they will be held accountable.”

Demonstrators, who protested the continued celebration of Columbus as an explorer decried his violent enslavement of native people, and tossed a statue of the explorer into the Inner Harbor on the 4th of July. They used ropes to pull the marble statue off its foundation in Columbus Piazza near Little Italy, before dragging it into the waters of the Inner Harbor. 


The marble statue was dedicated by former Mayor William Donald Schaefer and President Ronald Reagan in 1984. Many other statues of Columbus, as well as statues of Confederate leaders, and enslavers have toppled across the country as the national reckoning over systemic racism and police violence continues. 


Monuments of figures like Columbus “should have something there to talk about what happened in the dark past,” Young said, adding that protestors cannot “erase history. You learn from it.”


Young, a lame duck mayor who lost deep blue Baltimore’s mayoral Democratic primary to City Council President Brandon Scott, said he’ll leave it to the next administration to decide what to do with the city’s remaining Columbus monuments.


Gov. Larry Hogan called the statue’s removal "the antithesis of democracy" in a series of Sunday tweets.


"While we welcome peaceful protests and constructive dialogue on whether and how to put certain monuments in context or move them to museums through a legal process, lawlessness, vandalism, and destruction of public property is completely unacceptable," the Republican wrote.


Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.
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