Authorities in the U.S. state of Maryland have removed a statue of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney from the grounds of the State House in the latest example of action over Confederate monuments across the United States.
Taney, a Maryland native, wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery and denied citizenship to African Americans.
Crews in state capital Annapolis hitched straps overnight to the 145-year-old bronze statue and lifted it from its base with a crane, according to media reports and social media postings. It was lowered into a truck and driven away to storage.
The Associated Press reported that three of the four voting members of the State House Trust voted by email Wednesday to move the statue.
Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan said this week that removing the statue of Taney in Maryland was "the right thing to do." Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford voted on behalf of the administration to remove the statue.
"While we cannot hide from our history – nor should we – the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history," Hogan said in a statement on Wednesday.
One member of the trust, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, criticized holding the vote without a public meeting.
“This was certainly a matter of such consequence that the transparency of a public meeting and public conversation should have occurred,” Miller, a Democrat, wrote in a letter Thursday to Hogan.
The statue was removed two days after Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered the removal of four Confederate monuments from the city under the cover of night. A statue of Taney in Baltimore also was removed.
Authorities and protesters have since removed Confederate monuments in several U.S. cities, arguing that they are inappropriate and offensive.
Last weekend, white nationalists rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, against city officials’ decision to remove a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. A woman was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters who were there to condemn the white nationalists.
U.S. President Donald Trump decried on Thursday the removal of the monuments, echoing the views of white nationalists.
"Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can't change history, but you can learn from it," Trump wrote on Twitter.
"Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson - who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!" Trump said, referring to two Confederate generals in the Civil War and to early U.S. presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who owned slaves but whose legacies are overwhelmingly honored.