Replacement for removed monument is down in Baltimore

In Baltimore, vandalism is suspected at the site of a controversial and unauthorized folk-art statue.

BALTIMORE, MD (WUSA9) - A controversial and unauthorized folk-art installation raised by activists on the site of a confederate monument removal in Baltimore is down.

There are no witnesses at the scene of the toppling and it is unclear to observers if the statue was brought down by vandals or the effects of weather on the papier-mache statue.

Passersby noticed the statue down about about 2:30 p.m.

The site in Baltimore's Wyman Park became a magnet for both celebration and protest after Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered the removal of a confederate monument from the pedestal early Wednesday.

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Pugh was taking no action one way or the other on the removal of a controversial folk art sculpture placed by activists on the city-owned pedestal.

"At this time the Mayor does not have a position on the artwork that was placed on the pedestal," said spokesman Anthony McCarthy.

The statue called 'Madre Luz' by Uraguayan-born artist Pablo Machioli depicts a pregnant African-American Woman carrying a child while striking a defiant pose.   Some people visiting the site call the sculpture the "Black Lady Liberty".   The fragile papier-mache statue was lifted onto the city-owned pedestal Wednesday afternoon by activists who had gathered at the location in Wyman Park to celebrate the city's removal of a Confederate monument before dawn.  

Since its appearance at the site, the Madre Luz has been vandalized and damaged by weather.   

"I'm surprised it hasn't been knocked down" said Baltimore resident Kelley Burke who'd come to pose for photographs celebrating the removal of the Confederate statue of Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson riding horses.

The presence of the Madre Luz caused sharp reactions in response to a Facebook post by WUSA9 reporter Scott Broom.  Some comments were overtly racist.  

"She looks like an ape and if that's what they want to love then that's explains their animalistic behavior," wrote Facebook user Sarah Carlson.

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But many Baltimore residents visiting the site celebrated the placing of the papier-mache monument.

"I think this statue is really beautiful," Burke said as she unfurled a handmade quilt honoring the Black Lives Matter movement for a photo with friends.

"I think this stature is really beautiful," said friend Marta Hanson.  "We should have a conversation about putting some kind of alternative memorial that recognizes the dark arc of US history.  We shouldn't forget the history of racism," Hanson said.

"Its down on the ground where it should be!" shouted an unidentified man as he drove past the site and honked his horn.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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