Early Monday morning in New Orleans, a monument to the battle fought between the city’s interracial Reconstruction Police and militia combined with a paramilitary white nationalist group made up of Confederate Veterans was taken down. This was conducted by protected construction crews to the anguish of a small crowd that included a man’s shouts of rage at the secrecy of the procedure. The Associated Press has posted the raw footage of the removal online:
The Monument to the Battle of Liberty Place, or the “Liberty Monument”, as it is called, was constructed in 1891 by the state’s Democratic Party to commemorate their supporters who died in the battle, the same year they passed the state’s anti-black codes and when lynchings against blacks and Italians increased dramatically. The site became a haven for segregationists and white nationalists and a target for vandalism and removal. New Orleans made several attempts over the decades to either made the monument more palatable or less conspicuous.
Here is a picture of one of these later revisions.(Source: The Times-Picayne)
The removal was part of a larger campaign to remove all four Confederate memorials built during the Jim Crow Era—statues of President Jefferson Davis, and Generals Robert E. Lee and Louisianan Pierre G.T. Beauregard–from New Orleans after Dylan Roof’s mass murder at a Historic Black Church in South Carolina in the summer of 2015. The local paper The Times-Picayne has been following the story regularly. It has an entire section of its website devoted to stories on New Orleans’ Confederate symbols here. This article offers a comprehensive take on the event around the removal itself.
The city’s council held hearings allowing both Mayor Mitch Landerieu and members of the public to air their thoughts and opinions. The Mayor advocated for the removal of all four monuments, as did preservationists, though some thought the monuments to Lee and Beuaregard were worthy to remain.
Here are excerpts from the hearing of August of 2015:
And from the later hearing in December of that year:
This past December, the City Council voted 6-1 to remove all four monuments out of public view and into storage. An appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court to halt the removal of the figure statues was turned down in early March.
Mayor Landerieu gave a press report (shown below) Monday afternoon, noting that the statues were all marks on the City and Nation’s exclusionary part and that the future of New Orleans would be best made with new, inclusive memories in keeping with the diversity of the city and country. The Mayor noted the danger and threat of violence facing those who were contracted to take down the statues and that the other statues would be removed without disclosure so as to ensure their safety.