Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

New Orleans Confederate monument of Jefferson Davis taken down


Officials and contractors have reportedly received death threats from opponents of the four scheduled monument removals. It wants to eliminate 23 statues and hundreds of names of slaveholders and Confederate soldiers from public schools and streets.

The Jefferson Davis statue was the second out of four monuments set to be removed after the New Orleans City Council endorsed a plan in 2015 to do so.

"I am here to witness this debacle, taking down this 106-year-old handsome monument", said Pierre McGraw, president of the Monumental Task Committee, which restored the statue as one of its first projects 29 years ago.

As expected, the removal of the Jefferson Davis monument on Canal Street and Jeff Davis Parkway started overnight with a heavy police presence and a large crowd of people gathered to watch. Police separated the sides with barriers. "This time it was of Jefferson Davis, the former President of the Confederacy, but who was also a West Point graduate, a hero of the Mexican-American War, and the United States Secretary of War". "We should not be venerating Confederates or bestowing an honor to them", says resident Malcolm Suber, a leader of the group. The issue became especially prominent after the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina, church by a self-described white supremacist. These monuments stand not as mournful markers of our legacy of slavery and segregation, but in reverence of it.

In a statement Thursday morning, Landrieu called the Confederate memorials "not only an inaccurate reflection of our past, it is an affront to our present, and a bad prescription for our future". "We should not be afraid to confront and reconcile our past", he said. The vote was met with fierce opposition; historic preservation societies and the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans filed a lawsuit in an effort to block the city from removing the statues.

"Behind the barricade, everybody behind the barricade", says one New Orleans police officer. The statue was dedicated in 1911.

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New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu posted photos on Twitter of the removal of the Jefferson Davis Monument.

WDSU reporter Kelsey Davis said removal equipment arrived around 3 a.m. Crews could be seen in protective gear with masks over their faces.

Earlier this month a committee in the Louisiana legislature advanced a bill that would bar municipalities from removing Confederate monuments without first winning approval through a vote.

Around 4 a.m., two workers approached the Davis statue in a work lift and wrapped part of it in green plastic. The crews then placed yellow straps around the center of the statue, below the arms, to hoist the statue from the base. Still slated for removal, at a time to be determined, are the statue of Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle and the statue of P.G.T. Beauregard at the entrance to City Park. Much of the fury and the verbal challenges came from the monument defenders, who appeared to be outnumbered by the second-line participants by at least two to one.

The mayor's office said the city has secured private funding to remove the moments. Landrieu said the monuments will be removed and put into storage until a suitable and permanent home can be found.

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