Baltimore activists want Francis Scott Key Bridge renamed, here's why - Hindustan Times
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Baltimore activists want Francis Scott Key Bridge renamed, here's why

Apr 11, 2024 08:33 AM IST

New sonar images capture wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge lying on the bed of Baltimore's Patapsco River. Clean-up work will end only by mid April.

New sonar images have captured the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge lying on the bed of Baltimore's Patapsco River. The bridge collapsed on March 26 after being struck by a massive commercial vessel named Dali, which lost power. The U.S. Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command obtained these images, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sharing them on social media.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - APRIL 09: In an aerial view, salvage crews continue to remove wreckage from the cargo ship Dali after it stuck and collapsed the Francis Scott Key Bridge, April 09, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Getty Images via AFP)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - APRIL 09: In an aerial view, salvage crews continue to remove wreckage from the cargo ship Dali after it stuck and collapsed the Francis Scott Key Bridge, April 09, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Getty Images via AFP)

The scans display the metal framework of the ship, slated for removal by the end of April. This will pave the way for a new 35-foot-deep, 280-foot-wide Limited Access Channel. "The channel will accommodate larger ships at the @portofbalt, including marine tugs, Maritime Administration (MARAD) vessels, and Roll-on/Roll-off shipping," the Corps stated on social media.

Activists want Francis Scott Key Bridge name changed

Civil rights groups in Maryland are urging the state to rename the Francis Scott Key Bridge, destroyed last month by a cargo ship, due to Key's history as a slave owner.

Key owned slaves and reportedly believed that Black people were intrinsically inferior as a race.

“Every single public structure that is built to honor someone is being done using all taxpayers’ money,” Snowden said. “Whoever the bridge is named after should be somebody that all taxpayers can respect.”

The Caucus of African American Leaders propose renaming it after Rep. Parren J. Mitchell, the first Black Marylander elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. “He spent a life, his entire life, creating a bridge between the African American community and literally the larger society,” Carl O. Snowden, the convener for the Caucus of African American Leaders, told NBC News. Mitchell died in 2007.

Additionally, they suggest renaming the Sen. Frederick Malkus Memorial Bridge after Gloria Richardson, a prominent civil rights leader. The caucus plans to present these recommendations to Governor Wes Moore and advocate for a memorial for the six Latino workers killed in the bridge collapse.

Baltimore Salvage Operation Challenges

Earlier, on April 2, the Corps of Engineers had shared sonar images revealing the complexity of the salvage operation. Divers primarily used the imaging tool CODA Octopus to inspect the site. However, due to murky waters with visibility limited to one to two feet, they couldn’t use video.

The Corps described the conditions as "virtual darkness," with divers relying on detailed verbal guidance from operators aboard vessels viewing real-time CODA imagery.

Baltimore Collapse Details

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed on March 26, causing significant disruption to the Port of Baltimore. The collapse claimed the lives of six workers from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico, who were patching potholes. Two victims, Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, 35, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, 26, were recovered from a submerged red pickup truck near the bridge's middle span.

Baltimore Cleanup Efforts:

Cleanup operations began on March 31 after a crane removed a 200-ton section of the bridge obstructing the port entry. Governor Wes Moore noted that this piece was just one of thousands of tons of debris in the river and atop the ship.

Approximately 1,100 Corps of Engineers personnel are on site, utilizing specialized equipment to help reopen the U.S.'s largest vehicle-handling port.

A senior U.S. official mentioned that the Dali's keel also lies at the river bottom, entangled with part of the bridge, complicating the channel-clearing efforts.

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