New Orleans removes first of four Confederate-era monuments, announces funding to take down the rest

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The Battle of Liberty Place statue at Canal Place was removed in the early morning hours April 24.
  • The Battle of Liberty Place statue at Canal Place was removed in the early morning hours April 24.
A few hours after construction crews began removing a statue intended to recognize "white supremacy in the South," Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced that the city should "truly remember all of our history, not part of it." The Battle of Liberty Place obelisk — one of four statues targeted for removal by the city, and what Landrieu called the "most offensive" of the four — was the first to come down.

The statues — which Landrieu said were "first erected as an affront to America, intended to deny the humanity of millions of Americans" — will be moved to a city-held warehouse before they move to a museum or similar building. Other statues to be removed include Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle, P.G.T. Beauregard at the entrance to City Park, and Jefferson Davis on Jefferson Davis Parkway in Mid-City.

Debate over their removal has swirled over the last several decades, but it came into sharp focus when Landrieu announced their removal in 2015. Debates continued at City Hall and elsewhere as officials mulled a "nuisance" ordinance under which the monuments could be removed, arguing their construction "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."

“The removal of these statues sends a clear and unequivocal message to the people of New Orleans and the nation: New Orleans celebrates our diversity, inclusion and tolerance,” Landrieu said in a statement early this morning. “Relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once. This is about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile — and most importantly — choose a better future. We can remember these divisive chapters in our history in a museum or other facility where they can be put in context — and that’s where these statues belong.”
A pair of federal court rulings gave the city the green light to begin their removal after lawsuits from monument supporters had stalled the process.

Landrieu declined to announce details about when the remaining statues would be coming down. "Due to the intense level of threats by those who seek to keep these statues standing, we will not be sharing these details now or in the future," Landrieu said. "But let me be clear: we will not be deterred."

Landrieu also said the city "has secured the private funding necessary to relocate all four statues," despite the only bidder for their removal offering more than double the city's initial $170,00 budget.


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