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New Orleans Removes Confederate Statue In Predawn Operation

REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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Crews dismantled a monument to Confederate President Jefferson Davis in New Orleans early Thursday morning while hundreds of city residents looked on with a mix of joy and anger.

As they did two weeks ago when they removed a stone obelisk dedicated to a white supremacist insurgency in post-Civil War New Orleans, workers arrived under the cover of darkness sporting helmets and body armor, the New Orleans Advocate reported. Jubilant supporters and defiant opponents of the removal, corralled by police behind protective barricades, jeered each other but remained nonviolent as they watched Davis come down from his pedestal. (RELATED: New Orleans Removes Confederate Monument Under Cover Of Darkness)

The controversial statue is the second of four Confederate monuments slated to be removed from public display. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is spearheading the effort, called the removal a milestone in the city’s “march to reconciliation.”

Landrieu acknowledged the political divide over the four monuments, which he said were erected to honor the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy,” but urged New Orleans residents to reconcile their differences and “redefine” the city’s future:

“Today we continue the mission. These monuments have stood not as historical or educational markers of our legacy and segregation, but in celebration of it,” the mayor added in a statement.

Landrieu originally proposed the monuments’ removal with strong support from city’s black residents in 2014. The New Orleans city council in 2015 voted 6-1 to to take the statues down, but the order was delayed until April due to a series of legal fights.

Critics of Landrieu’s plan say it is an attempt to whitewash New Orleans history and an insult to the heritage of many Southerners. A group called the Monumental Task Committee, which opposes the removals, issued a scathing statement Thursday morning:

“Mayor Landrieu says the removals are to make New Orleans more diverse, but Landrieu cannot be inclusive, tolerant, or diverse when he is erasing a very specific and undeniable part of New Orleans’ history,” said Committee president Pierre McGraw. “We urge our citizens to contact the Louisiana Legislature … to prevent further destruction of memorials to our veterans.”

New Orleans officials have not released a timeline for removing the remaining two monuments — statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard.

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