The Latest: Vote on Confederate Monuments in New Orleans

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

City Considering What To Do With 4 Confederate Monuments.

NEW ORLEANS — The latest developments from a New Orleans City Council meeting and vote Thursday to remove prominent Confederate monuments. Tuesday night, dozens of residents sound off to a special commission about what they think should happen to the controversial statues that some call offensive. “I think those statues must stay where they are, they must represent the history of Maryland, they must represent the history of Baltimore and they must represent the history of America,” said Heid.

All times local: After nearly six months of debate, supporters and opponents of an ordinance to remove four monuments dedicated to Confederate history in New Orleans are showing up to speak out on the topic before a City Council vote. With support from Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a majority on the City Council appears ready to take down four monuments, including a towering statue of Confederate Gen. 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. 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. Beauregard, a high-ranking Confederate officer; a monument to Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president; and the Liberty Place monument, commemorating a deadly 1874 uprising by the Crescent City White League, a white supremacist group, against the integrated Reconstruction government.

The push to remove racially charged symbolism has fused, too, with the outrage over police shootings of unarmed blacks and lingering patterns of racism — a current movement embodied by the group Black Lives Matter and student protests, such as what happened at the University of Missouri that led to the resignation of the college system president. 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. In the South, allegiance to Confederate symbols has been slowly eroding, according to David Butler, a human geographer at University of Southern Mississippi. Confederate iconography is being questioned and in some cases erased around the country following what police described as a white supremacist’s shooting of nine black people inside a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina. Tense public forums on the monuments — including a raucous at-capacity meeting last week — have exposed deep rifts in a city that touts itself as a cultural melting pot but has continually struggled with deep racial and economic inequality. “These monuments are of people that reigned down over not just New Orleans but also the South and kept people enslaved,” Latoya Lewis, a community organizer at the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, said after last Thursday’s public hearing on the monuments. “We are worshiping those same ideologies.

Beauregard, the Confederate general, mounted on a horse in the center of another traffic circle at the entrance to City Park could be struck from the cityscape. 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. Lewis, who advocates for equal employment access and living wages with the center’s Stand With Dignity campaign, links the monuments to the slavery era and to present-day economic inequalities. “We are not in shackles, but we are working till we die from paycheck to paycheck,” she said. Above it all, the Virginian stands in his military uniform, with his arms folded and his gaze set firmly on the North — the embodiment of the “Cult of the Lost Cause” southerners invoked to justify continued white power after the Civil War. On Tuesday, a volunteer group that looks after monuments across the city said it had collected about 31,000 signatures of people opposed to the removal of the monuments. “But a lot of us were Confederates,” he added. “New Orleans was part of the Confederacy.

Like Lewis, Quess links the Confederate monuments and systemic issues in the black community, like high crime and unemployment rates. “All of those things are not separate. The people who erected the Confederate statues, McGraw says, “wanted to send a message to the future that at the time they thought these people had made a significant contribution … These were noble men in their eyes.” The committee’s counterplan to address the monument controversy includes advocating “respect and tolerance for all monuments,” adding interpretive plaques to some statues and erecting new ones. William Tecumseh Sherman, and making Jefferson Davis Parkway into “Presidents Avenue” by adding a statue of Abraham Lincoln. “Historic places, including the Confederate memorials in contention, can be catalysts for a necessary and worthwhile civic discussion,” said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in a statement.”We believe we actually need more historic sites properly interpreted, to help us contextualize and come to terms with this difficult past.”

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