New Orleans set to remove Robert E. Lee statue

Olive Rios
May 20, 2017

Absent for the most part are the shouting matches and vitriol that accompanied the city's taking down of the Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard and Battle of Liberty Place monuments.

Unlike the first three statues, city officials plan to take Lee's statue down during the day, with Mayor Mitch Landrieu planning a major speech Friday afternoon to explain his reasoning.

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

The issue is a slippery-slope for New Orleans, as there are dozens more Civil War-era monuments, whom Black Lives Matter-aligned groups are now demanding be removed. Beauregard is the general who ordered the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in 1861.

New Orleans' removal of the monuments has prompted Louisiana lawmakers to work to enact a law that would make it harder for cities to take down Confederate monuments from public property.

A statue of Lee was slated for removal Friday from atop a 60-foot-high pedestal where it was been since 1884. A couple of weeks later, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was toppled.

At one point earlier in the morning, a fight almost broke out after someone snatched an American flag from a monument supporter and hid it in a vehicle.

The statues will be put into storage while the city looks for a suitable place to display them, the mayor has said.

Landrieu called for removing the monuments in the emotional aftermath of the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a SC church. Some argue the monuments symbolize racial injustice and slavery. Just last week, Civil District Court Kern Reese denied a third request for preliminary injunction specifically confirming City's right to move Beauregard. The shooter, Dylann Roof, was a proud racist who flaunted the Confederate flag, reinforcing many people's belief that Confederate symbols represent hate more than history. His statue sat at a traffic circle near the entrance to New Orleans City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art.

The monument is the third of four monuments to the Confederacy scheduled to be removed from the city. It's been there since 1915.

In St. Louis, Missouri, Mayor Lyda Krewson has committed to removing a 32-foot tall Confederate monument from a park. The city said due to "intimidation, threats, and violence, serious safety concerns remain" it wouldn't announce a timeline for Lee's removal.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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