BALTIMORE — President Donald Trump’s top adviser and former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has warned the Trump Administration that it has no choice but to halt the demolition of the historic Big Ben monument in Baltimore.
“They have no choice,” Bannon told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.
“They have to stop the demolition and they have to do it quickly, because you know, we’re not going to have a Big Ben anymore.
We’re not talking about a new one.”
The Big Ben was built in 1685 as the capital of the British kingdom of England, which is now a sovereign nation under the United Kingdom.
It stands at 2,400 feet tall and has been the center of the nation’s capital since its completion in 1693.
The city of Baltimore is the only U.S. city to keep the Big Ben, which sits on a parkway overlooking the Inner Harbor.
The project has been fraught with controversy, including criticism of its design by the Black Lives Matter movement, which said the structure, which has been called the most powerful monument in the world, had to be demolished to make way for a shopping mall.
Baltimore has been in a state of emergency since May, when riots erupted over the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody after a Baltimore police van struck him with its brakes.
The unrest forced Baltimore to enact an emergency ordinance, which gave police the power to stop people from riding bicycles, walking on sidewalks and other public areas, and confiscating items like cell phones and flashlights.
The law also allowed officers to search people for weapons and carry out drug raids.
Bannon’s comments came as Trump’s administration and Baltimore officials have been engaged in an intense and sometimes acrimonious debate about the fate of the Big Ten football stadium and its surrounding areas, which were home to the University of Maryland, which Trump had campaigned for.
The two sides have been in an impasse over the stadium’s future, which could lead to the city losing its funding and could even affect the national championship game between the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans.
Baylor University is a prominent target for the Trump team because of its role in the civil rights movement.
The president’s administration has not yet announced a position on the school, which he has pledged to renovate.
Brazile said she had “no choice” but to oppose the Big Benjamin project because of the history and the impact it would have on the city.
“It’s a historic structure that’s been there for a long time,” Brazile said.
“And I think we should make it a public place.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.