With dozens of demonstrators pro and con looking on from a distance, crews removed a statue early Thursday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
It was the second of four monuments to the Confederacy slated for removal under a controversial city plan.
On one side of the debate: Those who want the monuments taken down, saying they are symbols of racism and white supremacy. “The fight that we’re waging is against the city fathers who have refused to bring about genuine equality and freedom for the black people here,” said Malcolm Suber of an activist organization.
On the other side those who argue the monuments honor Southern heritage and history.
The city issued a statement early Thursday with Mayor Mitch Landrieu referring to the overall operation as a “long overdue process of removing four statues that honor ‘the Lost Cause of the Confederacy.”‘
The opposing groups of demonstrators, separated by barricades, got into some heated shouting matches, WWL says. There was a heavy police presence.
A last-ditch effort to block the removal of a monument to a Confederate general was rejected Wednesday by a Louisiana judge who turned away arguments that the city doesn’t own the statue or the land on which it sits.
“This has gone on an inordinate amount of time,” Judge Kern Reese said as he outlined reasons for his refusal to grant an injunction protecting the statue of Gen. P.G.T Beauregard. It was a reference to state and federal court battles that delayed removal of the Beauregard monument and the other three for more than a year.
The huge bronze image of Beauregard on horseback sits in the center of a traffic circle at the entrance to New Orleans City Park. Those who don’t want it removed argued that it belongs to a park board and, therefore, the city has no authority to remove it.
Reese’s rejection of an injunction means the city can remove the statue pending further proceedings in his court. Richard Marksbury, a New Orleans resident and monument supporter, said he may go to an appeal court to block removal.
A statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee is also supposed to be taken down.
A fourth structure, the Liberty Place monument, was removed late last month. It honored whites who battled a biracial Reconstruction-era government in New Orleans.
The Liberty Place monument was taken down without advance notice in the dead of night by workers in masks and body armor. City officials have been secretive about removal plans due to threats of violence against those tasked with taking down the structures.