Trumpet star Blanchard: Confederate statue removal historic

Olive Rios
May 20, 2017

The statue coming down today is the P.G.T. Beauregard equestrian statue on Esplanade Avenue at the entrance to City Park. 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.

While the previous three monuments were removed under cover of darkness in part because workers had received death threats for carrying out the city's plan, Mayor Mitch Landrieu ordered that the monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee be brought down in broad daylight Friday.

"It's not good to continue to revere a false version of history and put the Confederacy on a pedestal", Landrieu, who is white, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Landrieu had proposed removing the monuments after the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a SC church.

City officials said street closures are in place as the removal process begins.

The City Council voted 6-1 in 2015 to remove the monuments after several contentious public meetings marred by heckling and debate. In the months since, intense public debate over the meaning of the monuments sparked protests, fights on social media and lawsuits meant to block the removal, legal maneuvering that ultimately failed.

The Beauregard monument was unveiled to a 17-gun salute the afternoon of November 11, 1915, by Hilda Beauregard, a granddaughter of the Confederate general, according to a report in The Times-Picayune the next morning.

Supporters said removing them is akin to erasing history.

Workers at the Beauregard removal Tuesday night also covered their faces and wore helmets but the atmosphere appeared slightly more low-key, with work starting in the evening after sunset.

Across a bayou from where the monument stands, some observers sat in lawn chairs, and a brass band celebrating the sculpture's removal showed up after midnight, news outlets reported.

"This is something I never thought I'd see in my lifetime", he tells the Times-Picayune. Advocates of keeping the monuments in place - who Landrieu called "self-appointed defenders of history" - are "eerily silent about what amounts to historical malfeasance". "Learning more about the history of what it really represents, more than just it's a work of art, it's a statue, the reasons why it was put up in the first place, I think it's time to take them down".

That granite obelisk, erected in 1891, was the least prominent monument and the first removed. But to some it was the most objectionable.

Unveiled in 1911, the memorial to the Confederacy's only president was on a green space in the Mid-City neighborhood, the second monument removed.

The public memorials to Beauregard and other heroes of the U.S. Civil War's pro-slavery Confederacy have been denounced by critics as an affront to the ideals of multi-racial tolerance and diversity in the majority-black Louisiana city. It's a bronze sculpture of Lee looking toward the northern horizon from atop a roughly 60-foot-tall column. It was unveiled in 1884.

Citing the same safety concerns as it did before, the city said it would "not share details on a removal timeline for the Robert E. Lee statue".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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