Update: A second city committee, the Human Relations Commission, also recommended the statues' removal at its meeting following the Historic District Landmarks Commission. Its recommendation will be sent to the full New Orleans City Council.
Lee Circle in 2010.
The New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) recommended today that four Confederate monuments "may be removed" following a push from Mayor Mitch Landrieu as well as the New Orleans City Council to consider the statues' futures. The HDLC voted 11-1.
The monuments include P.G.T. Beauregard outside City Park, Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle, Jefferson Davis on Jefferson Davis Parkway, and a monument commemorating the Reconstruction-era Battle of Liberty Place.
The City Council passed a resolution
considering the statues a "nuisance" based on a 1993 ordinance that calls for the removal of property that "honors, praises, or fosters ideologies which are in conflict with the requirements of equal protection for citizens" or "suggests the supremacy of one ethnic, religious, or racial group over any other, or gives honor or praise to any violent actions taken wrongfully against citizens of the city to promote ethnic, religious, or racial supremacy of any group over another." Judy Reese Morse and Scott Hutcheson from the mayor's office said the monuments represent the Lost Cause following the Civil War, in that they were erected during racially divisive Reconstruction efforts to nobilize the cause and have become symbols of white supremacy and ideologies that continue to oppress minorities. Morse said the discussion isn't so much about the men represented by the monuments but "the ideology that caused their monuments to be erected in the first place."
She said the monuments "don't reflect who we are," and considering their removal presents an opportunity to "come together and collectively shape what we are and who we are." Morse said the Landrieu administration will talk with police, fire and property management departments in the logistics of their removal.
Dozens of people packed the City Council Chambers to speak for and against their removal — those in favor said the statues represent decades of oppression and disregard the struggles, histories and personhood of more than half of the families in New Orleans. Many HDLC members agreed. Opponents repeatedly pointed to the removal of the statues as a "rewriting" of history, but commissioner Paul Harang said "the way they were erected was a denial of history" that challenged that the Civil War was not about slavery, with "the southern soldier fighting for a righteous cause."
James Logan with the Louisiana Landmarks Society said the statues should remain and "preserved as artifacts."
The recommendation will go to the full City Council; the Human Relations Commission holds its public meeting on the monuments tonight at 6 p.m.