Groups Fight Removal Of Confederate Monuments, File Federal Lawsuit
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Four organizations whose goals are to protect and preserve New Orleans' historic landscape have filed a federal lawsuit to halt efforts to remove four prominent Confederate monuments.
The Louisiana Landmarks Society, Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Monumental Task Committee and Beauregard Camp No. 130 on Thursday challenged the City Council's vote to remove the structures and Mayor Mitch Landrieu's approval of the ordinance.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed an ordinance on Thursday calling for the relocation of four Confederate monuments from prominent locations in New Orleans.
The four monuments are: the Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Circle, the Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway, the P.G.T Beauregard equestrian statue on Esplanade at the entrance to City Park and the Battle of Liberty Place Monument at Iberville Street.
During a Special Meeting of the New Orleans City Council, Ordinance Calendar No. 31,082 was considered at the request of Councilmembers Jason Rogers Williams, Jared C. Brossett, James Austin Gray II and Nadine M. Ramsey. This ordinance declared that the four Confederate monuments are nuisances pursuant to Section 146-611 of the Code of the City of New Orleans and be removed from their prominent locations in New Orleans. The members of the City Council voted 6 to 1 in support of this ordinance.
Private dollars will be used to pay for the removal of these monuments; the estimated cost is approximately $170,000. The city will begin the legal process necessary to remove the Liberty Place monument, which is currently subject to a federal court order. The process for removing the other three monuments could begin in days. The City will use a contractor selected through its Job Order Contract Program (J.O.C.), a publicly-procured program that has been in place since 2009 and provides the opportunity to select from several contractors to perform small and emergency projects.
Once removed, the monuments will be stored in a City-owned warehouse until further plans can be developed for a park or museum site where the monuments can be put in a fuller context.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, “I want to thank the New Orleans City Council for their courageous decision to turn a page on our divisive past and chart the course for a more inclusive future. Symbols matter and should reflect who we are as a people. These monuments do not now, nor have they ever reflected the history, the strength, the richness, the diversity or the soul of who we are as a people and a city.
“This is the right thing to do and now is the time to do it. Moving the location of these monuments — from prominent public places in our city where they are revered to a place where they can be remembered — changes only their geography, not our history. These monuments will be preserved until an appropriate place to permanently display them, such as a museum or a park, is determined.
“Now we will have the opportunity to join together as a community and select new unifying symbols that truly reflect who we are today. It is our intention to engage a diverse group, and I look forward to thoughtful and robust public discussion process.”