Baltimore Removes Statue of Slave Owner from Canton Square

After many months of community debate, officials in Baltimore have removed a statue of slave owner Captain John O’Donnell from Canton Square.

Calls to remove the statue began in 2020. In November 2020, the Canton Anti-Racism Alliance submitted a letter to then Mayor Jack Young asking the city to remove the statue. The group had circulated a petition which received over 800 signatures in the first two weeks it was live. The Canton Community Association also supported the removal of the statue.

Workers removed the statue from Canton Square on Monday, April 5. Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott described the importance of this move, while emphasizing that the city has more work to do to promote equity in public spaces.

“Tonight, the hostile vestige to the notorious enslaver Captain John O’Donnell no longer stands in Canton Square. This is a historical moment, however, countless publicly named monuments, statues, streets, and schools across Baltimore remain that must be reassessed. I am committed to dismantling structural oppression in Baltimore by working with the City Administrator to commission a team to establish procedures for reviewing the impact of these cruel monuments while continuing to promote equitable policies to right yesterday’s wrongs,” Mayor Scott said.

The statue of O’Donnell has stood at the center of the square for nearly 40 years.