New Orleans is removing the more prominent of its Confederate monuments as it seemingly tries to erase its Civil War past as a part of a state that fought with the Confederacy.
The first of the four primary monuments came down early Monday morning amid controversy over whether the statues merely honor fallen soldiers or diminish the evil of slavery.
Trucks removed the Liberty Monument under the cover of darkness. The statue commemorates the white citizens of New Orleans who resisted a post-Civil War government imposed by the North and enforced by Union troops. The work started so early because supporters of the monument are furious that it is being removed over political correctness.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called the Liberty Monument the “most offensive” of the four set for removal and that it was meant to “revere white supremacy.”
He said, “If there was ever a statue that needed to be taken down, it’s that one.”
Workers wore flak jackets and helmets as they proceeded with their task, apparently concerned about death threats that city officials claim they had received.
In the coming days, three other statues honoring Confederate General Robert E. Lee, General Pierre G.T. Beauregard and Confederate President Jefferson Davis are slated to be hauled away.
“There’s a better way to use the property these monuments are on and a way that better reflects who we are,” Landrieu said Sunday.
A majority of New Orleans residents are black.
The city council is also predominantly black and it voted 6-1 in 2015 to remove the monuments — but the decision was opposed in court battles that the city eventually won.
Landrieu wanted the memorials down now as New Orleans prepares to celebrate its 300th anniversary in 2018. The mayor is promising to remove the statues to a safe place until an “appropriate” location is found for them.