New Orleans' leaders vote to remove prominent Confederate monuments

New Orleans' leaders on Thursday made a sweeping move to break with the city's Confederate past when the City Council voted to remove prominent Confederate monuments along some of its busiest streets.

See Full Article

The council's 6-1 vote allows the city to remove four monuments, including a towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that has stood at the centre of a traffic circle for 131 years.

It was an emotional meeting -- often interrupted by heckling -- infused with references to slavery, lynchings and racism, as well as the pleas of those who opposed removing the monuments to not "rewrite history."

City Council President Jason Williams called the vote a symbolic severing of an "umbilical cord" tying the city to the offensive legacy of the Confederacy and the era of Jim Crow laws.

"If anybody wins here, it will be the South, because it is finally rising," Williams, who is African-American, said.

Stacy Head, a council member at large, was the lone vote against the removal. She is one of two white council members.

She lamented what she called a rush to take the monuments down without adequate consideration of their historic value and meaning to many in New Orleans.

Fixing historic injustice is "a lot harder work than removing monuments," she said, even as many in the packed council chambers jeered her.

She said the issue was dividing the city, not uniting it. "I think all we will be left with is pain and division."

The decision came after months of impassioned debate. Now, the city faces possible lawsuits seeking to keep the monuments where they are.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu first proposed taking down these monuments after police said a white supremacist killed nine parishioners inside the African-American Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June.

Anti-Confederate sentiment has grown since then around the country, along with protests against police mistreatment, as embodied by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Before Thursday's vote, Landrieu told the council and residents who gathered on both sides of the issue that for New Orleans to move forward, "we must reckon with our past."

Landrieu said the monuments reinforce the Confederate ideology of slavery, limit city progress and divide the city. He used President Abraham Lincoln's famous quote: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

Landrieu signed the new ordinance into law shortly after the vote. His administration said it would cost $170,000 to take the monuments down and put them in a warehouse until a new location is found for them -- perhaps in a park or museum. The city said it would hire contractors soon to remove the monuments.

The meeting was lively and sometimes disorderly.

The Rev. Shawn Anglim, a Methodist pastor, is among clergy who have spoken out in favour of taking down the monuments. Anglim told those gathered Thursday to "do the right thing."

"Do it for our children, and our children's children," he said.

Activist Malcolm Suber called the monuments "products of the Jim Crow era, an era when blacks were hunted and persecuted." Others said they want the council to go even further and change street names associated with "white supremacy."

The most imposing of the monuments the council has voted to strike from the cityscape has had a commanding position over St. Charles Avenue since 1884: A 16-foot-tall bronze statue of Lee stands atop a 60-foot-high Doric marble column, which itself rises over granite slabs on an earthen mound. Four sets of stone staircases, aligned with the major compass points, ascend the mound.

Above it all, the Virginian stands in his military uniform, with his arms folded and his gaze set firmly on the North -- the embodiment of the "Cult of the Lost Cause" southerners invoked to justify continued white power after the Civil War.

The council also voted to remove a bronze figure of the Confederate president that now stands at Canal Street and Jefferson Davis Parkway, and a more local hero, Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, who straddles a prancing horse at the entrance to City Park. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard was born in St. Bernard Parish, and commanded Confederate forces in the war's first battle.

The most controversial is an 1891 obelisk honouring the Crescent City White League. An inscription added in 1932 said the Yankees withdrew federal troops and "recognized white supremacy in the South" after the group challenged Louisiana's biracial government after the Civil War. In 1993, these words were covered by a granite slab with a new inscription, saying the obelisk honours "Americans on both sides" who died and that the conflict "should teach us lessons for the future."

Before the vote, council member Head asked to keep the large monuments to Lee and Beauregard in place. But her motion received no support from the seven-person council.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Montreal's iconic Expo 67 exhibition left lasting impact on country

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- It was five decades ago that Montreal welcomed the world to Expo 67, an international exhibition and iconic event that saw millions of visitors flock to the city over six months. The event would put Montreal on the map and is remembered fondly by those who attended as drawing them into a futuristic fantasy world and opening their eyes to people and places they'd never experienced before. Source
  • Large explosion rocks Syrian capital

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT - A large explosion rocked the Syrian capital early Thursday, followed by a fire near the Damascus airport, Syrian opposition activists and a monitor said. The explosion was heard across the capital, jolting residents awake, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdurrahman said. Source
  • Red Bull heir seeks another delay in alleged hit-and-run in Thailand

    World News CTV News
    BANGKOK - Prosecutors in Thailand say an heir to the Red Bull fortune has asked for another delay in facing charges over an alleged hit-and-run that killed a police officer almost five years ago. Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya has been a no-show for meetings with prosecutors on several occasions, complaining through his attorney of unfair treatment or citing duties abroad. Source
  • Man rescued after 47 days stranded on mountain in Nepal

    World News CBC News
    A Taiwanese man who was missing on a mountain in Nepal for 47 days was rescued Wednesday, but his girlfriend died just three days before they were discovered, trekking officials said. Asian Trekking agency official Madhav Basnet said 21-year-old Liang Sheng Yueh was found Wednesday on a ledge under a waterfall and was flown by helicopter to a hospital in the capital, Kathmandu. Source
  • Ohio man to appear in court after kidnapping neighbour, holding her in pit

    World News CTV News
    WILMINGTON, Ohio - Police say an Ohio man accused of kidnapping a neighbour and keeping her trapped in a small pit is to appear in court on a charge of kidnapping. Blanchester police say 45-year-old Dennis Dunn is scheduled for a hearing Thursday in Clinton County Municipal Court in Wilmington. Source
  • Oilers take early series lead after wild 3rd period in Anaheim

    Canada News CBC News
    Adam Larsson scored his second goal with 4:40 remaining, Mark Letestu had two power-play goals and the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Anaheim Ducks 5-3 in Game 1 of the second round on Wednesday night. Cam Talbot made 33 saves for the Oilers, who regained the lead when Larsson's centring pass from behind the net struck Ducks defenceman Josh Manson's skate and went in. Source
  • Hong Kong widens crackdown on pro-democracy activists

    World News CTV News
    Hong Kong authorities expanded their crackdown on the Chinese-controlled territory's opposition with a fresh round of arrests of pro-democracy activists on Thursday. Police detained up to nine activists for their apparent involvement in an anti-China protest last year, according to social media posts from two political parties, Demosisto and League of Social Democrats, whose members were among those arrested. Source
  • Analysis shows Syrian government behind sarin attack, France says

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- France said that the chemical analysis of samples taken from a deadly sarin gas attack in Syria earlier this month "bears the signature" of President Bashar Assad's government and shows it was responsible. Source
  • New fighting in South Sudan displaces 25,000 people

    World News CTV News
    NAIROBI, Kenya -- At least 25,000 people were displaced after fighting in the town of Kodok, according to a spokesman for the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders, one day after the top United Nations official in South Sudan warned of a government offensive on the town. Source
  • 5 key moments from tonight's B.C. election debate

    Canada News CBC News
    The leaders traded jabs on three main categories — leadership, the economy and housing — during Wednesday's election debate. Here are five moments we found most interesting: Housing B.C. Election Debate 20172:42 Source