Statue removals an affront to New Orleans history | Letters


New Orleans will remove a statue on Friday of Confederate military leader Robert E. Lee, the last of four monuments the city is taking down because they have been deemed racially offensive, officials said.

Landrieu, who has supported the removal of four New Orleans statues amid a national effort to banish symbols such as the Confederate battle flag from public property, blasted so-called protectors of southern heritage who vehemently opposed the move.

"Na na na na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye!" some in the crowd cheered as the statue was lowered onto a flatbed trailer.

Unlike at a removal earlier this month, there were no clashes between supporters and opponents of the statues, other than shouted taunts.

The historical markers "celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for".

"The Civil War is over; the Confederacy lost and we are better for it", Landrieu said during his speech.

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 Lee statue had towered over a traffic circle — Lee Circle — in an area between the office buildings of the city's business district and stately 19th-century mansions in the nearby Garden District. Recent court rulings cleared the way for the monuments to be removed and relocated following heated public debate and legal fights.

Landrieu called for the monuments' removal in the lingering emotional aftermath of the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a SC church.

While many were supportive of removal, opinions varied widely in the crowd of hundreds that gathered to watch Friday.

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The statue of Lee, who commanded Confederate armies against the Union in the Civil War, was the most prominent of the four statues, his bronze figure standing almost 20 feet (6 meters) tall in uniform, arms crossed defiantly, gazing northward.

The city's famed Uptown streetcar line wraps around the circle, and almost all Carnival parades traverse it near the end of their route. He added that they were erected years after the Civil War ended by people who wanted to show that white supremacy still held sway in the city.

Unlike the first three statues, city officials plan to take Lee's statue down during the day.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu took photographs of the Jefferson Davis statue being removed from its pedestal overnight. 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-tall column. Is he going to change the names of major streets also with the same names?

It is the last of four Confederate-era monuments that New Orleans had pledged to remove amid a swirl of controversy.

In what the Times-Picayune reported as "a passionate defense" of the removal of the Confederate statues, Landrieu said the Confederacy was "on the wrong side of humanity". He says in an interview with The Associated Press that "we don't want these statues in places of reverence; they need to be in places of remembrance".

The city also announced Thursday night that the area that formerly housed the Jefferson Davis statue will be replaced by an American flag.

Lawsuits continually delayed New Orleans' efforts to remove its statues.

The Louisiana Legislature is considering a measure that would hinder local governments from removing war memorials, including those from the Civil War. The bill allows local governments to take down a memorial only if voters approve the action at "an election held for that objective".

The city of New Orleans plans to take down the confederate statue on Friday, May 18, 2017, completing the so. That sparked protests, including one Saturday in which torch-carrying demonstrators were led by white nationalist Richard Spencer. A counterprotest was held on Sunday night.