New Orleans city officials removed the first of four Confederate monuments in the city in the dead of night Monday to avoid potential conflicts with protestors who want it to stay where it is.
Workers decked out in bulletproof vests, military helmets and scarves covering their faces disassembled the Liberty Place monument and hauled away the pieces around 5:35 a.m., as police oversaw their work from atop a nearby parking garage, the Associated Press reports.
The precautions, which included starting work at about 1:25 a.m., didn’t deter Civil War re-enactor Robert Bonner from coming down to the site to share his thoughts about the ordeal.
“I think it’s a terrible thing,” the 63-year-old said. “When you start removing history of the city, you start losing money. You start losing where you came from and where you’ve been.”
— Rob Krieger (@Rob_Krieger) April 24, 2017
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landreau and the City Council disagree.
The predominantly black Council voted 6-1 in 2015 to remove the Liberty Place monument, as well as statues honoring Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis, but legal challenges delayed the action until now.
The statues are scheduled to be taken down and stashed away somewhere with the Liberty Place monument until officials can find an “appropriate” place to display them, Fox News reports.
“The monuments are an aberration,” Landreau said. “They’re actually a denial of our history and they were done in a time when people who still controlled the Confederacy were in charge of this city and it only represents a four-year period in our 1000-year march to where we are today.”
Landreau said the Liberty Monument is the “most offensive” in the city and was taken down first because it was erected to “revere white supremacy.”
“If there was ever a statue that needed to be taken down, it’s that one,” he said. “There’s a better way to use the property these monuments are on and a way that better reflects who we are.”
The removal of New Orleans’ Confederate monuments and statues is the latest in a nationwide effort to erase all references to the Old South that intensified when a white racist gunned down nine black parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015.
The perpetrator like to pose with the Confederate flag on Facebook.
The tragedy convinced South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse weeks after the incident, prompting race crusaders and social justice warriors to demand similar removals of Confederate flags and monuments across the South.
In New Orleans, the effort to erase history irked many who believe the monument and statues are a part of the city’s history and deserve to be protected.
Landrieu refused to divulge the city’s contractor for the work, and said the bulletproof vests and other precautions for workers were put in place to guard against alleged death threats over planned removals.
The removal of the Liberty Place monument on Monday is the second time the city has attempted to do away with the structure, which is dedicated to the Crescent City White League – a group that was dedicated to overthrowing the city’s post Civil War biracial government.
According to the AP:
The Liberty Place monument had been the target of a previous lawsuit after the city removed it from a location on the main downtown thoroughfare of Canal Street during a federally-financed paving project in 1989. The city didn’t put the monument back up until it was sued, and moved the monument to an obscure spot on a side street near the entrance to a parking garage.