City To Remove Confederate Monuments, Despite Lawsuit

Removal of Monuments by Anonymous Group

It appears that New Orleans city officials are preparing to move forward despite a federal lawsuit seeking to block the removals.

James Karst, an editor and columnist for | The Times-Picayune, photographed a work crew Monday (Jan. 11) as they inspected the statue of Jefferson Davis in Mid-City. A spokesman for the city said the crew was measuring the statue in preparation for its removal, should the city prevail in the litigation.

A quartet of plaintiffs, led by the Monumental Task Committee, sued to block the city immediately after the Dec. 17 decision by the City Council to declare the monuments nuisances and have them removed.


An unknown donor will pay to remove the monuments, and will remain anonymous by giving the money to a private foundation that will then pay the money to the city.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu led the city council in agreeing to remove the monuments, a move that is supremely short sighted and ignorant. It will not change history. It will not placate the small number of  protesters who are seeking a forum. It will, however, invite future government officials to retaliate by “erasing” monuments or memorials that recognize other groups or events.
There are, for example, many aspects in the life of the Reverend Martin Luther King that are NOT laudable and inspiring, but this game of tearing down history is one that can be played by both sides. Landrieu is supposed to represent all of the people, but this is a very partisan approach to appeasing a small minority of his city. And one can easily imagine a better use for $170,000 than to destroy something that already exists, and that would cost many times that amount to replace should the next mayor decide  to do that.

Contrary to the various claims set out in the lawsuit, the city said it has the right to determine what statues sit on public property; that the National Register of Historic Places does not shield the monuments in question from removal; and that federally funded streetcar improvements nearby do not entitle the monuments to stringent federal historic protection standards.The city also rejects the idea that the Monumental Task Committee, one of the named plaintiffs, has gained partial ownership of the statues because the group’s volunteers have done restoration work on them.

The city can’t actually remove the monuments until a judge rules in its favor. But there is something very wrong with this attempt to change history, and the donor surely demonstrates that this is nothing to be proud of by remaining anonymous. Hopefully the voters will remember the shameful behavior of the city council next time they are called on to vote.



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