City Meets Deadline for Removing Four Confederate-Era Monuments

City Meets Deadline for Removing Four Confederate-Era Monuments

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Just hours after a heated argument led to a violent attack on someone calling for the removal of the city’s Confederate-era monuments, the City of New Orleans took down the third of four monuments the City Council voted in Dec. 2015 to remove from public spaces.

The P.G.T. Beauregard Equestrian Statue, (see above) which honors the former Confederate General and St. Bernard Parish native, was taken down in a process that began Tuesday night and ended before dawn on Wednesday morning, May 17. All that remains at the site is the pedestal base upon which the monument sat, which the Landrieu administration said would be moved at a later date.

The Battle of Liberty Place monument was taken down overnight on April 24, followed by the May 8 overnight removal of the Jefferson Davis monument in Mid-City.

The Beauregard monument was the first of the monuments to be taken down in prime-time without an air of secrecy, but the contractors who took down the monument still wore masks to conceal their identities as they had in the two earlier projects.

Initially, the Landrieu administration had said it wanted to have completed the project of removing the four monuments by May 19.

It met that deadline by starting the process of taking down the Robert E. Lee monument last Thursday and working to get it done before the close of business Friday, May 19, which happens to be the birthday of Black nationalist leader Malcolm X.

“Today we take another step in defining our City not by our past but by our bright future,” the forearm and shoulder.

The victims suffered minor injuries, were examined by EMS personnel but refused further treatment, according to police.

The two victims were reportedly hit by paintball pellets fired from a passing car. Another motorist who witnessed the shooting followed the vehicle from which the paintball gun was fired to the intersection of Duplessis and St. Denis streets, where police apprehended the suspects.

Police said they found a paintball gun and other items in the car.

The four suspects in the car were arrested and were booked on a number of charges.

WWL News reported that Javon Dawson, 19, was booked on charges of simple battery and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A 17-year-old was booked on two counts each of accessory to simple battery and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A 15-year-old boy who is believed to be the person who fired the paintball gun was booked on two counts of simple batter and a 16-year-old was booked on two counts of accessory to simple battery.

On Tuesday, just hours before the City began removing the Beauregard monument, a monument supporter struck a Black man in the face, breaking his nose.

And shortly after the Beauregard statue was removed, a father and son from St. Charles Parish, 57-year-old Michael Kimble and 31-year-old Christopher Kimble, were arrested by police for spray painting graffiti on the Beauregard statue’s base, which had not yet been removed. Bail was set at $2,500 for each of the men and they may face the charge of simple criminal damage to property.

Before the Beauregard and Lee monuments were taken down last week, some monument supporters had expressed hope that the City could be blocked from removing all four monuments or that the monuments might somehow be returned to the public places of honor where they stood for more than a century.

Meanwhile, monument supporters’ hopes might be buoyed by a petition to keep the remaining monuments in place and a bill that was making its way through the State House.

One of those residents who knew she had to sign the petition the moment she heard about it was Erin Farthing.

“It’s a wonderful artwork, and especially Robert E. Lee and Beauregard,” Farthing told WWL.

That sentiment was echoed by other monument supporters.

“We want to draft the measure so that it’s not up to the city council to have a biased deal,” Charles Marsala, organizer of Save NOLA, told WWL.

On Monday evening, Marsala was spotted encouraging people to sign the petition near the P.G.T. Beauregard monument. ,

“We had four attorneys vet this,” Marsala told WWL. “Actually, if we win, the city has to put them back up. The way to do this is to get 10,000 signatures from residents who are registered voters in New Orleans, and with that, we can put this on the ballot to have a vote on the monuments.”

The Monumental Task Committee, one of the groups that filed several lawsuits seeking to block the relocation of four Confederate-era monuments, still contends that the City of New Orleans does not own the land that the Beauregard statue sits on. “The Beauregard Monument Association asks City Park to build it in a mound,” Monumental Task Committee member Richard Marksbury told WWL. “And pay for a pedestal. And they would give them the monument. And they did. There’s no involvement in anywhere in any document. And I’ve looked through all of them, that mentions the City of New Orleans that mentions the Beauregard monument. Zero.”

On Monday House lawmakers approved House Bill 71, which protects Confederate monuments, taking the decision away from municipal leaders and putting it in the hands of the people for a vote. It’s a move several members of the Black Caucus passionately spoke out against.

“It seeks to honor men who shed countless numbers of people’s innocent blood all over this country. And it shouldn’t matter whether the people looked like me or you,” Representative Katrina Jackson (D), District 16, said.

“It’s offensive to live in a city where I’ve raised my children, where my family is. To have monuments for those who fought for my enslavement,” Rep. Gary Carter (D) District 102 said.

“This bill is nothing but a Trojan horse designed to supersede the decision-making authority of local municipalities regarding the use of public space,” State Rep. Joseph Bouie, chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, said at a press conference attended by all House members of the LLBC Tuesday.

“We were and are wounded because the bill attempts to rewrite history by honoring those who not only rebelled against the United States, but who fought to maintain man’s greatest inhumanity to man,” Bouie added.

“The system of slavery where our ancestors were considered property, less than human, women raped and abused, men slaughtered at will and systems implemented to facilitate cultural genocide.”

The New Orleans Advocate reported that Bouie and other LLBC members walked out of the House chamber after Monday’s vote.

House Bill 71 now moves on to the State Senate. Farthing said she hopes it passes, for history, she says you can’t erase.

“If anybody is offended by the monuments, they should look within themselves,” Farthing said. “Because that’s what you should do. If slavery didn’t happen then the Confederate War didn’t happen. So, therefore, one complements the other.”

State Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, said he was offended by the lack of seriousness with which many of his white colleagues discussed the bill in the House chamber Monday.

“To see the humor and hear some of the comments as I was walking across the House floor and see the comments online, it’s extremely personal to me,” James, an LLBC member, said Tuesday. “Sometimes, I don’t even think my colleagues realize how their words affect us.”

Rep. Gary Carter, D-New Orleans, said he struggles to understand why it is difficult for some people to understand why many people are offended by the Confederate monuments.

“I raise my children to believe they can be anything they want to be,” Carter explained. “I don’t want them to grow up in a place where there’s a monument talking about white supremacy. We’re glorifying those who fought for the enslavement of our ancestors. That is personal to me.”

Three Republican House members voted against HB 71, among them Jim Morris (R-Oil City) and House Majority Leader Lance Harris (R-Alexandria).

While the New Orleans City Council voted in December 2015 to take down the Battle of Liberty Place monument and monuments to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Generals P.G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee, Take ‘Em Down Nola has identified some 133 monuments, memorials, school names and street names that it would like to see relocated or changed because of times to white supremacy and slavery.

Among them are the statue of U.S. President Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square, which the group tried to forcibly remove last September, a statue of Justice E.D. White near the Louisiana Supreme Court building, a statue of New Orleans founder Sieur de Bienville, the John McDonogh statue in Lafayette Square and street names like Robert E. Lee Blvd., Jefferson Davis Parkway and Tulane Avenue.

Since being taken down on April 24 and May 8 respectively, the two monuments were supposed to have been stored in a city-owned warehouse until a permanent home can be found. But WWL reported after the Beauregard statue had been taken down that the three monuments were being kept in a fenced lot next to a city-owned building where they can be viewed from the street.

Because of security concerns, the location of the lot has not been exposed but images of the Beauregard monument being kept in what appears to be little more than a junkyard have been circulating on social media.

The Landrieu administration has suggested that they might be better suited for a history museum and Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser has expressed an interest in relocating the monuments to various sites across the state.

At least one group from Biloxi, Miss., Beauvoir, which houses Jefferson Davis’ presidential library, has expressed an interest in acquiring and prominently displaying the four monuments but the City has reportedly not responded to its request.