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

  • Armed school officer didn't confront Florida gunman, sheriff says

    World News CBC News
    The armed officer on duty at the Florida school where a shooter killed 17 people never went inside to engage the gunman and has been placed under investigation, officials announced Thursday. The Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by a gunman armed with an AR-15 style assault rifle has reignited national debate over gun laws and school safety, including proposals by U.S. Source
  • School officer never went inside to confront gunman, Florida sheriff says

    World News CTV News
    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The armed officer on duty at the Florida school where a shooter killed 17 people never went inside to engage the gunman and has been placed under investigation, officials announced Thursday. The Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by a gunman armed with an AR-15 style assault rifle has reignited national debate over gun laws and school safety, including proposals by President Donald Trump and others to designate more people -- including trained…
  • 'You didn't win': Singer Susan Aglukark publicly names her abuser at MMIWG hearings

    Canada News CBC News
    Susan Aglukark ended the Rankin Inlet hearing for the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women by addressing the man she says sexually abused her when she was eight years old. "Norman Ford," she said on Thursday afternoon. Source
  • Jaspal Atwal, B.C. man at centre of media storm over Trudeau invite, likes posing with politicians

    Canada News CBC News
    For a man once convicted of trying to kill a politician, Jaspal Atwal seems to have had little trouble getting his picture taken with MPs, cabinet ministers and Liberal party leaders, including Justin Trudeau. Atwal — convicted in 1986 of the attempted assassination of an Indian state cabinet minister visiting Vancouver Island — is at the centre of an international media storm after posing for photos with Prime Minister Trudeau's wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, and Infrastructure Minister…
  • Tina Fontaine's death and Raymond Cormier's trial: What the jury heard

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- Jurors sat through three weeks of evidence in the trial of Raymond Cormier, 56, who on Thursday was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the slaying of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine. Tina's body, wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down by rocks, was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg several days after she disappeared in August 2014. Source
  • B.C. seeks reference case over pipeline to affirm its rights over oil shipments

    Canada News CTV News
    VICTORIA -- The British Columbia government will ask the courts if it has the right to protect its environment by restricting diluted bitumen in the Trans Mountain pipeline. Premier John Horgan said Thursday his government is filing a constitutional reference case on the issue, which has been at the centre of a heated dispute between B.C. Source
  • Wine ban suspended: Truce called in trade war between B.C. and Alberta

    Canada News CTV News
    VICTORIA -- The Alberta government has accepted an olive branch from British Columbia and is suspending its ban on the province's wine in an ongoing dispute over the Trans Mountain pipeline. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley took the step after B.C. Source
  • Toddler who befriended Nova Scotia garbage men gets special birthday gift

    Canada News CTV News
    Every Wednesday, three-year-old Hiro Getson walks to the end of his driveway, sits down and waits for the garbage truck. Like many kids his age, the toddler from Eastern Passage, N.S. has developed a love of big trucks. Source
  • Raymond Cormier not guilty in death of Tina Fontaine, 15

    Canada News CBC News
    Read our live coverage belowA jury has found Raymond Cormier not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Tina Fontaine. After the verdict was delivered, people in the crowd burst into tears and gasps of disbelief were heard from members of the teen girl's family and supporters. Source
  • Hunters fined for shooting couple's pet pigs

    Canada News CBC News
    Two men who shot and killed a Navan couple's cherished pot-bellied pigs last November have been fined after pleading guilty Thursday. The pigs, named Pickles and Rosie, were companion animals to Matt Nooyen and Lianne Guilbeault, and even participated as members of the couple's wedding party last September. Source