Monuments to Generals Lee and Beauregard, as well as Jefferson Davis, are all slated to come down from prominent positions around the city.
Image via (cc) Flickr user wallyg
This past summer, when pressed about statues commemorating Confederate figures and sites situated around his city, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu put it simply: “That’s what museums are for.”
Now, Mayor Landrieu’s plan to remove and relocate several high-profile Confederate memorials is moving ahead, after a six-to-one vote by the City Council in favor of a motion to bring the statues down. Essence reports that monuments dedicated to the Southern generals Robert E. Lee and Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard and the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, and one commemorating the post-Civil War Battle of Liberty Place, are all slated for removal.
The move comes as part of a heated—and ongoing—debate over the place of Confederate symbols and historical markers in Southern communities. According to New Orleans’ Times-Picayune , Mayor Landrieu and city official Stacy Head, the council's sole no vote, engaged in a tense back-and-forth during deliberations, with Head reportedly offering an (eventually rejected) amendment that would see both the Lee and Beauregard statues remain in place, but with the the addition of explanatory plaques.
Per the motion passed by the City council, the statues in question have been declared “nuisances,” which:
“...honor, praise, or foster ideologies which are in conflict with the requirements of equal protection for citizens as provided by the constitution and laws of the United States, the state, or the laws of the city and suggests the supremacy of one ethnic, religious, or racial group over another.”
According to the Times-Picayune, the statues will not be destroyed, and will instead be placed in storage until officials decide on a more approrpriate venue for their display—likely a museum.
In a statement released by the city after the council’s decision, Mayor Landrieu praised the “courageous decision to turn a page on our divisive past and chart the course for a more inclusive future.” He continued: “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.”
According to the release, the statues will be removed using privately donated money. It is expected to cost approximately $170,000.
[via the frisky]