Home / World / New Orleans removes a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from its perch of 133 years – Los Angeles Times

New Orleans removes a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from its perch of 133 years – Los Angeles Times

Gen. Robert E. Lee stood erect, arms crossed over his chest, as his statue was ousted from its prominent 133-year perch in the heart of New Orleans.

Just after dawn, workers in masks and protective vests had converged around Lee Circle, a traffic roundabout between the city’s bustling central business district and the wealthy Garden District neighborhood of antebellum mansions.

With hammers, chisels and ropes, they slowly prepared to dismantle the 16½-foot, three-ton bronze statue of the icon of the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy” from its lofty 60-foot tall marble column.

Before long, the event took on the aura of a block party as residents settled in with lawn chairs, parasols, even mimosas. Some strutted and shimmied as a boombox blasted James Brown’s 1968 classic, “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud” and Public Enemy’s 1990 anthem, “Fight the Power.”

On Thursday, Landrieu’s office said in a statement that it had received offers from public and private institutions to take individual monuments and would solicit proposals only from governmental entities and nonprofit groups.

“This should guarantee that wherever the statues end up, they are interpreted as they should be: as historical artifacts from a time when white Southerners believed it was acceptable to memorialize a lost cause interpretation of the Civil War and ignore the historical record,” said Blain Roberts, a professor of history at Fresno State, who is working on a book about the memory of slavery.

Yet questions linger about how far New Orleans and other Southern cities will go on to memorialize the Civil War and the historic legacy of slavery.

New Orleans officials have announced that Lee’s statue will be replaced by a water feature and public art, while a U.S. flag will be placed at the site of the Davis statue. The City Park Improvement Assn. will help decide what replaces the Beauregard statue.

“Putting the American flag in the spot where the Davis statue stood is fine, but I would urge the city to do more,” Roberts said. “Whatever replaces the removed statues should acknowledge the historical facts that those statues were designed to suppress: that enslaved labor generated the wealth of white New Orleanians, and that defending slavery was the reason they and other white Southerners seceded from the Union and fought the Civil War.”

New Orleans’ removal of the monuments has prompted Louisiana lawmakers to work to enact a law that would make it harder for cities to take down Confederate monuments from public property. Four Southern states — South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee — have passed similar preservation acts that block local municipalities from removing or altering historic war monuments.

On Monday, members of Louisiana’s Legislative Black Caucus walked out as the state’s Republican-dominated House passed a bill that would ban the removal of public military memorials. The next day, they said the bill revealed a “deep-rooted belief in white supremacy.”

Malcolm Suber, an adjunct professor at Southern University at New Orleans and organizer of Take ’Em Down NOLA, said the next big battle will be to remove an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, from a prominent spot in Jackson Square in the city’s historic French Quarter.

“Millions of tourists have taken photos of that statue without realizing the character of the man,” Suber said, noting the Tennessee native was a major slaveholder. “If Harriet Tubman can replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, certainly we can do the same. We want to wipe the slate clean.”

Jarvie is a special correspondent.

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UPDATES:

4:40 p.m.: This article was updated with the statue’s removal and other details.

11:10 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details from the scene and comments.

This article was originally published at 10:15 a.m.

Source: world

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