New Orleans removes monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee

Claudine Rigal
Mai 29, 2017

Crews in New Orleans have removed the last of four monuments to Confederate-era figures: The statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Lee's statue had been a fixture there since 1884. The killer, Dylann Roof, was an avowed racist who brandished Confederate battle flags in photos.That reignited the debate over whether Confederate emblems represent racism or an honourable heritage.

"Na na na na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye!" some in the crowd cheered as the statue was lowered onto a flatbed trailer. Crews were on scene as early as 6:30 prepare for the statue's removal. "These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for", he said Friday.

It's the fourth and final Confederate monument the city had slated to take down, and its removal marks the end of one of America's more successful ― and publicized ― campaigns to expel symbols of white supremacy from public property.

"This cult had one goal and one goal only: through monuments and other means to rewrite history, to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity", he said.

The column on which the statue stood will remain, and the city will add a water feature.

Lee Circle and the Lee monument, circa 1890-1900.

City officials say the monuments will be moved somewhere such as a museum where they can be "placed in their proper historical context from a dark period of American history".

But clearing out the monuments has been highly controversial.

Landrieu had proposed the removal of the monuments after the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a SC church. Earlier this month, dozens of supporters of the monuments clashed with hundreds of demonstrators near the site of the Lee statue. As the day went on, the crowd grew to about 100 people, the station reported. Lee's was the last of four monuments to Confederate-era figures to be removed under a 2015 City Council vote on a proposal by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The city's famed Uptown streetcar line wraps around the circle, and almost all Carnival parades traverse it near the end of their route.

And if critics of the removal don't believe that, "the people of New Orleans believe it and we don't want these statues in places of reverence, they need to be in places of remembrance", said Landrieu, who plans a Friday afternoon speech to city residents.

The removal of the statue comes after the city has already taken.

Those three statues were taken down in the pre-dawn hours without advance public notice, a precautionary measure after officials said threats had been made against contractors and workers involved in the effort. It marked a deadly fight between the Crescent City White League, a group opposed to the city's racially integrated police force, and state militia after the Civil War.

In a speech Friday, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu made it clear that these statues were part of a "movement which became known as the cult of the Lost Cause". The statue, which stood for 106 years, had been atop a roughly 12-foot column and depicted Davis with his right arm outstretched with palm turned upward. Is he going to change the names of major streets also with the same names?

Mayor Mitch Landrieu pushed for removal of the statues, which he said celebrated white supremacy. But in explaining his reasoning, the mayor has repeatedly said they do not represent the diversity and future of New Orleans.

Private funding raised by the city will pay for the removal of the landmarks, Landrieu's office has said.

"We will no longer allow the Confederacy to literally be put on a pedestal in the heart of our city", Landrieu vowed last month after the first statue came down. The bill allows local governments to take down a memorial only if voters approve the action at "an election held for that goal".

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