Latest: New Orleans votes to remove Confederate monuments

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Latest: New Orleans votes to remove Confederate monuments.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The latest developments from a New Orleans City Council meeting and vote Thursday to remove prominent Confederate monuments (all times local): New Orleans council members have voted in favor of removing prominent Confederate monuments along some of its busiest streets — a sweeping move by a city seeking to break with its Confederate past. Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been talking about having the symbols removed for about a year, but requested to officially topple the statues a week after the Charleston Church shooting in June.

Landrieu says New Orleans wants to present itself as a city that values culture and diversity, and big places in the city need to be reserved for that. The New Orleans Police Department had a strong presence in council chambers following last week’s discussion which led to at least four people being escorted from the meeting. Anti-Confederate sentiment has grown since then around the country, along with protests against police mistreatment, as embodied by the Black Lives Matter movement. As for what happens next, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration has said that a private donor has offered to pay for the monuments’ removal but has not said when that will occur or where the monuments will be moved to.

The council members’ sentiments echo the emotions in the public, and those supporting the removal are applauded loudly while the two who have spoken against the removal are heckled. Another City Council member, James Gray, says the monuments do not reflect the true history of New Orleans, a city he says was mostly on the side of the Union and not the Confederacy.

Their ordinance has sparked passionate responses for and against these symbols, and both sides will get one more say at a special council meeting before Thursday’s vote. “This has never happened before,” said Charles Kelly Barrow, commander-in-chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “I’ve never heard of a city trying to sweep (away) all Confederate monuments.” Geographers have identified at least 872 parks, natural features, schools, streets and other locations named for major Confederate leaders in 44 states, according to a mapping project. What’s happening in New Orleans reflects a new effort to rethink all this history: Confederate iconography is being questioned across the nation, and in some places falling from public view. “It is a grand scale of symbolic rewriting of the landscape,” said Derek Alderman, a geographer at the University of Tennessee who is mapping Confederate symbolism nationwide. “It certainly represents a wholesale re-questioning of the legitimacy of remembering the Confederacy so publicly.” 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. “Supremacy may be a part of our past, but it should not be part of our future,” he declared. Landrieu says a commission should be established to consider creating a park where the city’s history — and the removed monuments — can be explained. 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.

Do it for our children, and our children’s children.” Opponents of the removal plan want the council to consider alternatives, including erecting other monuments to tell a wider narrative about the Civil War. Also up for removal is 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.

The ordinance calls the monuments a nuisance because they foster ideologies that undermine the equal protection clause provided by the Constitution and because they support the idea of racial supremacy. In 1993, these words were covered by a granite slab with a new inscription, saying the obelisk honors “Americans on both sides” who died and that the conflict “should teach us lessons for the future.” “There are a lot of people making a direct connection between a white supremacy group and the effect on African-Americans,” said the geographer, who’s been tracking many examples of “a questioning of the authority that the Confederacy has been given on the landscape.” Popular culture, Alderman said, is trying to establish how to rewrite “American and Southern public memory in a way that makes room for both perspectives on heritage, and at the same time is fair and just to African-American perspectives that historically have not been recognized.” The Memphis city council is trying something similar, voting in August to remove an equestrian statue of Gen. A majority of council members and the mayor support removing four major monuments, which would be one of the strongest gestures yet by American city to sever ties with Confederate history.

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