In April, the city removed the Battle of Liberty Place monument, which was erected by a white supremacist group to commemorate a deadly insurrection against New Orleans' racially integrated police department and government in 1874. As air was seen between Lee's statue and the pedestal below it, a cheer went up from the crowd who recorded history with their phones and shook hands with one another in congratulations. The other three, however, should have never been removed.
The statue of the general sat atop Lee Circle, a vaunted roundabout in the Crescent City.
City officials began to remove the third of four New Orleans Confederate monuments Tuesday, May 16, 2017 evening. More important is the challenge of creating something new, lovely and hopefully far more unifying, so that the wounds that both the statues' presence and their removal caused can start to heal.
Landrieu said the four monuments were out of step with a modern city that embraces people of all races while acknowledging that New Orleans was also once one of the biggest slave markets in America. The killer, Dylann Roof, was an avowed racist who brandished Confederate battle flags in photos, recharging the debate about whether Confederate emblems represent racism or an honorable heritage. "These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for", Landrieu said, adding that Lee and the Confederate army fought against the United States. Earlier this month, dozens of supporters of the monuments clashed with hundreds of demonstrators near the site of the Lee statue.
Lee's removal was planned during the day and announced in advance.
Mitch Landrieu enters his final year as mayor of New Orleans, drawing less attention to what's been built than to what's been taken down. "With the removal of four of our century-plus aged landmarks, at 299 years old, New Orleans now heads in to our Tricentennial more divided and less historic". Contractors involved in the removal process have been threatened; statue supporters sued repeatedly to keep the statues up.
But WWL-TV has found the removed monuments to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and PGT Beauregard in a city-owned scrap yard.
State Sen. Gerald Allen said, "We're seeing a wave of political correctness wipe out monuments to historically significant, if often flawed, people".
The City Council approved Landrieu's proposal to remove the monuments in 2015.
Belatedly, Landrieu announced plans to go forward Thursday night. The last is tied up in legal issues.
And where the monuments once stood, public art and an American flag are among the pieces that will replace them.