- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 9, 2020

As the Black Lives Matter movement gained steam, so did the push to remove Confederate monuments, with more memorials having been taken down since George Floyd’s death than in the past three years combined.

Across the U.S., 119 Confederate statues and monuments have been removed since the end of May. In 2017, 55 were removed, while 34 were taken down in 2018 and 21 in 2019, according to a new study.

California has one Confederate monument left and has removed 91% of the offending memorials in the state, according to an analysis by BeenVerified, a public records search service.

Of the states that had at least 10 Confederate symbols, California and Maryland removed the most. Maryland removed 79%, followed by Oklahoma (39%), Florida (30%) and the District of Columbia (25%).

“The removal of these Confederate symbols coincides with years of growth in support of racial justice and the BLM movement,” said Brian Ross, the senior data analyst for BeenVerified, which completed a study of the removals.

BeenVerified used 2019 data from the Southern Poverty Law Center and 2020 media reports to calculate the removals.

More than 1,650 Confederate monuments and symbols, which include the Confederate flag, remain in place.

South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama have removed the fewest Confederate memorials.

“The country seems to have reached a tipping point of self-examination, and one of the most visible symbols of the history of inequality and injustice against Black Americans are the Confederate monuments dotting the cities, towns and municipalities throughout the United States,” Mr. Ross said.

The two Confederate historic figures with the most removals this year have been Robert E. Lee, who served as commander, and Jefferson Davis, who served as the president.

The death of George Floyd, a Black man, while in the custody of Minneapolis police, sparked racial justice demonstrations and growing calls to take down Confederate statues and other memorials.

The fervor led protesters to deface and destroy not just memorials linked to the Confederacy but also statues of abolitionists who fought to end slavery, including Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

Several statues of Christopher Columbus also have been targeted.

The BeenVerified analysis counted only Confederate memorials, including symbols such as the rebel flag, which were removed by cities or by protesters. Statues of other figures such as Columbus were not included.

Public polling on the issue has been mixed.

A majority of voters, 58%, in a Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released in June said the memorials should stay. Days earlier, though, another poll by Quinnipiac University showed that a majority, 52%, wanted to see them taken down from public spaces.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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