Street Artists Install a Whip and Cotton on Statue of Slave Owner in Baltimore's Canton Neighborhood

A whip and cotton stalk were placed in the hand of the statue of John O’Donnell, an Irish merchant and slave owner, that stands in Baltimore’s Canton neighborhood, video filmed on June 29 shows.

An Instagram page called The Linwood Project – a group that described themselves to Storyful as “street artists” – claimed responsibility for the installation in a conversation with Storyful and said it was done on the evening on Sunday, June 28, one week after a Black Lives Matter mural was painted on a street in the area.

“Imagine being a person of color living on a former plantation with a statue to the slave master. In a [predominately] white neighborhood in a [predominately] black city. Folks were happy to see Black Lives Matter painted in the street, but do Black lives really matter here? If they did, and if they do, then people will know what to do,” The Linwood Project said.

The page posts photos and QR codes with information regarding the history of O’Donnell (1749–1805) as a slave owner and merchant. O’Donnell’s mercantile success led him to name his plantation Canton after the Chinese city of the same name, now called Guangzhou, according to a report from the Baltimore Sun.

The Baltimore neighborhood where the plantation used to be is still called Canton today, and is described as a gentrified neighborhood that attracts young white people on sites such as Tripadvisor and Reddit. References to O’Donnell, such as street names and the statue – which was erected in 1980, according to reports, can be found throughout.

“My neighborhood was a plantation. They built a statue for massa, but I’m the man hating?” wrote The Linwood Project in a post on Instagram.

The installation drew some confusion and criticism online. Twitter user @Pass_The_Mike_, who filmed this video, said in a tweet: “**** is crazy. I lowkey feel like it was somebody trying to ‘help’ but uhhh. Not it. At all lol.” Credit: @Pass_The_Mike_ via Storyful