On Thursday, the city of New Orleans voted to remove three Confederate monuments and one memorializing a white supremacist group, much to the dismay of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
The City Council approved the removal of the four monuments after ruling that they are a “public nuisance.”
In a vote of 6-1, it was decided that the monuments of Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard and a monument to the White League, will be removed, after months of impassioned debate.
The “Battle of Liberty Place” monument, which stands where the “White League” fought black militia members, is a 35 foot tall obelisk that is often described as a celebration of the militant white supremacists. It’s easy to see why, as in 1932 it was transcribed with the statement:
“[Democrats] McEnery and Penny having been elected governor and lieutenant-governor by the white people, were duly installed by this overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers, Governor Kellogg (white) and Lieutenant-Governor Antoine (POC).
United States troops took over the state government and reinstated the usurpers but the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.”
In 1974, another inscription was added which stated, “Although the “battle of Liberty Place” and this monument are important parts of the New Orleans history, the sentiments in favor of white supremacy expressed thereon are contrary to the philosophy and beliefs of present-day New Orleans.”
In 1993, some of the original inscriptions were removed and replaced with, “In honor of those Americans on both sides who died in the Battle of Liberty Place … A conflict of the past that should teach us lessons for the future.”
The monument is often vandalized with anti-racist and anti-Nazi graffiti.
The removal of the offending monuments was first proposed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu following the massacre at the African-American Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June. Nine innocent people were killed by a white supremacist who was seen gripping a Confederate flag in photos.
“Gov. Jindal opposes the tearing down of these historical statues, and he has instructed his staff to look into the Heritage Act to determine the legal authority he has as governor to stop it,” Doug Cain, a Jindal spokesman, said in a statement in August.
The debates surrounding the removal were lively, with many stating that as products of the Jim Crow era, the monuments had to go. On the other side of the debate were a group calling themselves “Confederate Veteran’s Lives Matter.”
The ordinance allows for the monuments to be relocated to “an appropriate (indoor) facility, such as a museum” or their storage, donation or disposal “in accordance with provisions of law.”
One council member had asked to keep the monuments to Lee and Beauregard in place, but received no support from any other members of the council.
An anonymous donor has reportedly volunteered to donate the cost of moving the monuments.
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