Attempting to erase history, New Orleans ousts confederate monuments

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New Orleans’ Liberty Monument, which commemorates Americans who tried to take down the biracial post-Civil War government in New Orleans, was trucked away under the cover of darkness from where it’s been standing for the past 150 years.

New Orleans is the latest Southern city to distance itself from its Confederate past through the removal of historical monuments.

At 1:25 a.m., workers wearing flak jackets and helmets were protected by police snipers as they unceremoniously took down the monument, which New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu described as the “most offensive” of four Civil War-era monuments the city plans to rid.

“If there was ever a statue that needed to be taken down, it’s that one,” he said, claiming that it was originally erected to “revere white supremacy.”

Statues of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis are also slated for removal, despite opposition from those who seek to protect the 300-year-old city’s colorful history.

“There’s a better way to use the property these monuments are on and a way that better reflects who we are,” said Landrieu in a Sunday press conference. The plan to remove the monuments passed the city’s council 6-1 and has the approval of the majority of its residents, most of whom are black.

Landrieu said the monuments will be stored and preserved until they determine an “appropriate” place to relocate them.

Calling the monuments an aberration, Landrieu said, “They’re actually a denial of our history and they were done in a time when people who still controlled the Confederacy were in charge of this city. And it only represents a four-year period in our 1000-year march to where we are today.”

The national debate over Confederate symbols took on an urgent tone after nine parishioners were killed at a black church in South Carolina in June 2015.  After that incident, South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from its statehouse grounds, and several Southern cities have since considered removing their Confederate monuments.

In addition, the University of Mississippi no longer flies its state flag because of the Confederate emblem displayed on it.

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