The words “Black Lives Matter” were painted onto a statue honoring Confederate soldiers in Baltimore on Monday.
The statue was erected in 1903 by the Maryland chapter of the group Daughters of the Confederacy. The words ‘Black Lives Matter’ were painted in yellow to cover a message originally etched by the group, which was founded for the female lineal descendants of soldiers who served in the Confederate forces.
The "Black Lives Matter" slogan gained popularity following a series of fatal shootings of black men by white police officers in the past year. The death of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore black man, while in police custody in April, resulted in heated protests prompted an investigation into allegedly racially motivated police tactics in the city. The slogan took on renewed significance last week when a white militant, believed to be Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people during a Bible study at the historic African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., last week.
Statues and memorials commemorating the confederacy and representing the country’s segregated past have been a point of contention in the United States in recent months.
This year in Greenwood, S. C., local officials fought to have a World War II memorial removed that separated soldiers into the categories “white” and “colored”. But some opponents complained that the campaign to remove the memorial was an attempt to whitewash history.
"Segregation was the accepted social order of that time," Eric Williams, who spent 32 years as a historian with the US Park Service, told the Monitor at the time.
"If we alter the monument, we alter its historical integrity.”
The Confederate flag has also come under fire over the past week following shooting in Charleston.
Gov. Nikki Haley called for the removal of the flag from South Carolina State House grounds Monday saying that it was seen by many as “a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past.”
The message “Black Lives Matter” was also spray-painted onto the stone pedestal of a Confederate statue there.
Those living, working, and studying close to the area in Baltimore where the message was written on the Confederate statue had varied responses to the message. The statue is located across from the campus of the Maryland Institute College of Art. It is one of several statutes devoted to the Confederacy that are located around the city.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.