Mayor Landrieu to discuss Confederate statues removal in ‘special address’ Friday

The city of New Orleans is set to remove its fourth and final Confederate-era monument, Gen. Robert E. Lee, on May 19, 2017.

A Southern Poverty Law Center study past year identified more than 1,500 Confederate symbols on public property, including “monuments and statues; flags; holidays and other observances; and the names of schools, highways, parks, bridges, counties, cities, lakes, dams, roads, military bases, and other public works”.

“And after the Civil War, these monuments were part of that terrorism as much as burning a cross on someone’s lawn”, Landrieu said.

“Bring it home”, said Tom Payne, Executive Director at the Beauvoir, when he found out one of the Confederate statues taken down in New Orleans is of Jefferson Davis. A path that leads to the Robert E. Lee monument has been cleared. “These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for”, he said.

In a speech about the removal of the monuments, the mayor said they were landmarks that were not a true reflection of the city.

The P.G.T. Beauregard monument at the entrance to City Park was removed just after 3 a.m. Wednesday, though crews had been working to take the six-ton statue off its pedestal since 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

However, Councilmember-at-Large Stacy Head said that has come under question.

The statues were erected decades after the Civil War to celebrate the “lost cause of the Confederacy”, a movement recognized across the South as promoting white supremacy, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.

About 100 people were on hand as a huge crane arrived at the New Orleans monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

New Orleans, he said, is still a city with high incarceration rates, high crime rates and awful poverty. It’s a bronze sculpture of Lee looking toward the northern horizon from atop a roughly 60-foot-tall column.

Those three statues were taken down in the pre-dawn hours without advance public notice, a precautionary measure after officials said threats had been made against contractors and workers involved in the effort.

The history of the Confederacy, he added, is one “we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered”.

In 2015, the City Council voted 6-1 to remove the monuments after a succession of contentious public meetings.

Lee Circle has reopened to vehicle traffic after NOPD officers set up barricades and traffic was rerouted while RTA workers cut the power to the street auto lines. Only nonprofits and governmental entities will be allowed to take part in the process, and the city said the process will include the Battle of Liberty Place monument as well as the statues of Davis and Lee.

“We can not be afraid of the truth”, said Landrieu, who along with other city leaders chose to take down the monuments in 2015, a decision that withstood challenges in federal court.

Certain conditions apply, however; the statues can not be displayed outdoors on public property in New Orleans.

The city wants to finish the work during its tricentennial year in 2018.