Free Press wire reports | 4/28/2017, 12:27 p.m.
A monument to a deadly white supremacist uprising in 1874 was removed under cover of darkness by workers in masks and bulletproof vests Monday as New Orleans joined the movement to take down symbols of the Confederacy and the Jim Crow South.
The Liberty Place monument, a 35-foot granite obelisk that pays tribute to white people who tried to topple a biracial Reconstruction government installed in New Orleans after the Civil War, was taken away on a truck in pieces before daybreak after a few hours of work.
In the coming days, the city also will remove statues of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, now that legal challenges have been overcome.
“We will no longer allow the Confederacy to literally be put on a pedestal in the heart of our city,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu vowed.
The removal of the obelisk was carried out early in the morning because of death threats and fears of disruption from supporters of the monuments.
The workers wore military-style helmets and had scarves over their faces. Police were on hand, with officers watching from atop a hotel parking garage.
“The statue was put up to honor the killing of police officers by white supremacists,” Mayor Landrieu said. “Of the four that we will move, this statue is perhaps the most blatant affront to the values that make America and New Orleans strong today.”
Citing safety concerns, the mayor would not disclose exactly when the other monuments would be taken down, except to say that it will be done at night to avoid trouble.
He said the monuments will be put in storage until an appropriate place to display them is determined.
In Virginia, the Charlottesville City Council voted April 17 to sell its statue of Gen. Lee that stands in the center of the city. The buyer would be responsible for removing and transporting it.
The council also unanimously agreed to rename two parks in the city, one of which is named for Gen. Lee and the other for Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson.
New Orleans is a mostly African-American city of nearly 390,000. The majority-black City Council voted 6-1 in 2015 to take the monuments down, but legal battles held up action.
Mayor Landrieu, a white Democrat, proposed the monuments’ removal and rode to victory twice with overwhelming support from the city’s black residents.
Opponents of the memorials say they are offensive artifacts honoring the region’s racist past. Others say the monuments are part of history and should be preserved.