Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

New Orleans takes down Confederate monument

New Orleans takes down Confederate monument

Since May 11, crews have removed monuments to Jefferson Davis, president of the pro-slavery Confederacy and P.G.T. Beauregard, a Confederate general.

In 2015, New Orleans chose to take down the four monuments, and a USA appeals court ruled in March that it had the right to proceed.

Lee's statue comes down Friday, the last of four Confederate-related statues to be removed from public property in the Louisiana city.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu first proposed the removal of Confederate monuments in 2015, and the city council approved the decision a year ago.

"New Orleans' City Council approved the move previous year, but officials were met with opposition from supporters who fought to keep the monuments up".

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"Today we take another step in defining our City not by our past but by our bright future", said Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a statement issued Tuesday around 8:30 p.m.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is expected to give a speech marking the removal of the last of the four monuments on Friday afternoon.

The Robert E. Lee statue was a familiar landmark for tourists and commuters who travel busy St. Charles Avenue by vehicle or on one of the city's historic streetcars.

Landrieu said Friday that the monuments represent a "sanitized" view of the Confederacy. It would be impossible to do the removal "at dark and maintain the safety of the construction workers", he said. Those calling for their removal say they glorify a shameful part of the city and country's history. "It's always made me feel as if they were put there by people who don't respect us".

"I've never looked at them as a source of pride", Blanchard said. But to some it was the most objectionable.

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It had been tied up in legal battles over efforts to remove it since at least the 1980s. In 1932, the City added a plaque to the monument, which stated that the statue commemorated the "overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers...and the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state".

Beauregard's statue, near City Park, was erected in 1915 in honor of the prominent general who led the attack on Fort Sumter in SC, a siege that marked the beginning of the Civil War.

Of the four monuments, Lee's was easily the most prominent: The bronze statue alone is close to 20 feet (6 meters) tall.

Historians, in the past, have said that the opposite is true of New Orleans, however, arguing that the city attracts tourists and residents because of its rich history and public museum-like displays. It's been there since 1915. It's an image of Lee standing tall in uniform, with his arms crossed defiantly, looking toward the northern horizon from atop a roughly 60-foot (18 meters)-tall column. This is hard to comprehend for a number of reasons-the monument is on the National Register of Historic Places, its removal disgraces Louisiana people of Creole descent, and Beauregard was one of Louisiana's first civil rights leaders. It was unveiled in 1884.

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