(taken from ‘The Christian Science Monitor’ and Reuters)
A federal appeals court has ruled that the city of New Orleans can take down three Confederate monuments that have stood in the city for more than a century.
In December 2015, the city council voted to remove four monuments, including statues of Confederate figures Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis, immediately triggering backlash and death threats against the contractors hired to do the job. A lawsuit filed by three historic preservation organizations and a Sons of the Confederacy group sought to halt their removal, but the suit was overturned on Monday. A fourth monument, which commemorates a post-Civil War uprising against Louisiana’s Reconstruction government in 1874 by the White League, a white supremacy group, is still tied up in unrelated legislation.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was moved to begin the process of removing these monuments in the wake of the 2015 Dylann Roof shooting in Charleston, S.C. Mr. Roof’s veneration of the Confederate flag and his racist justification for the murders in a black church sparked nationwide protests and led to the removal of the “Stars and Bars” Confederate battle flag from South Carolina state grounds and other Confederate reminders across the country.
But Mayor Landrieu’s choice to remove the monuments in New Orleans met with swift resistance. Plaintiffs in the case argued that the city of New Orleans did not own the land the monuments were built on and therefore did not have the authority to remove them. Ultimately, it was found that the land did, in fact, belong to the city.
The final ruling also took into consideration the city’s promise it would not destroy the historic statues. The statues will be removed from their current, prominent locations around the city and stored until a more appropriate place for their display can be found.
“Moving the location of these monuments — from prominent public places in our city where they are revered to a place where they can be remembered — changes only their geography, not our history,” Landrieu said.
The date for their removal has not yet been set.