Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee coming down in New Orleans today

The statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee stands in Lee Circle in New Orleans in 2015. [Associated Press]

The statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee stands in Lee Circle in New Orleans in 2015. [Associated Press]

The city of New Orleans will take down a prominent statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee today, completing the southern city's removal of four Confederate-related statues that some called divisive.

Unlike the first three statues, city officials plan to take Lee's statue down during the day, with Mayor Mitch Landrieu planning a major speech in the afternoon to explain his reasoning.

In a news release obtained by the Associated Press, the city said the statues were "erected decades after the Civil War to celebrate the 'Cult of the Lost Cause,' a movement recognized across the South as celebrating and promoting white supremacy."

The city plans to have extra security around the Lee statue today and will block off a one-block radius around Lee Circle to cars before and during the removal in anticipation of protests.

"Citizens have a right to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceful protest," city officials said in the release. "We understand there are strong emotions surrounding this subject, and we ask that the public remain peaceful and respectful while demonstrating."

Landrieu had proposed the removal of the monuments after the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church. The killer, Dylann Roof, was an avowed racist who brandished Confederate battle flags in photos. That recharged the debate over whether Confederate emblems represent racism or an honorable heritage.

The Robert E. Lee statue was a familiar landmark for tourists and commuters who travel busy St. Charles Avenue by car or on one of the city's historic streetcars.

Erected in 1884, Lee's is the last of four monuments to Confederate-era figures to be removed in accordance with a 2015 City Council vote.

The city removed a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis last week; a statue of Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard on Wednesday; and a monument memorializing a deadly 1874 white-supremacist uprising in April.

Those three statues were taken down in the pre-dawn hours without advance public notice, a precautionary measure after officials said threats had been made against contractors and workers involved in the effort.

Of the four monuments, Lee's was easily the most prominent, with the bronze statue alone being close to 20 feet tall. It's an image of Lee standing tall in uniform, with his arms crossed defiantly, looking toward the northern horizon from atop a roughly 60-foot-tall column.

It towered over a traffic circle — Lee Circle — in an area between the office buildings of the city's business district and stately 19th century mansions in the nearby Garden District.

Landrieu drew blistering criticism from monument supporters and even some political allies. But he insisted throughout that the statues honoring the Confederate figures must go.

"We will no longer allow the Confederacy to literally be put on a pedestal in the heart of our city," Landrieu vowed last month after the first statue came down.

In the news release Thursday, the city said it has received offers from public and private institutions to take individual monuments, so it will solicit proposals on where they will go through an "open and transparent selection." Only nonprofits and governmental entities will be allowed to take part in the process, and the city said the process will include the Battle of Liberty Place monument as well as the statues of Davis and Lee. The final resting place of Beauregard's statue will be considered separately because of legal issues.

Anyone who submits a proposal to take one of the statues will have to describe how they will "place the statues in context both in terms of why they were first erected and why the city chose to remove them in 2015," the city said. They also cannot be displayed outdoors on public property within the city.

The city plans to leave the column where Lee's statue stood intact and will mount public art in its place.

An American flag will stand where the Davis statue used to be, and the area where the Liberty Place monument used to stand "will remain as is." The City Park Improvement Association, civic groups and the city will decided what will go where the Beauregard statue used to stand.

The city wants to finish the work during its tricentennial year in 2018.

Statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee coming down in New Orleans today 05/18/17 [Last modified: Thursday, May 18, 2017 11:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Girl says her mom asked for forgiveness before stabbing her

    Crime

    ATLANTA — Everyone was asleep when Isabel Martinez began stabbing her children and then fatally stabbed her husband as he tried seek help, her daughter told a child welfare caseworker.

    In a  July 7 file photo, Isabel Martinez gestures towards news cameras during her first court appearance, in Lawrenceville , Ga. Martinez is charged with killing four of her children and their father. [AP Photo/John Bazemore, File]
  2. McCain says 'I'll be back soon' as he battles brain cancer

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — Battling brain cancer, Sen. John McCain on Thursday promised to return to work, making a good-natured dig at his Republican and Democratic colleagues who were jolted by news of the six-term lawmaker's diagnosis.

    Sen. John McCain has been diagnosed with a brain tumor after a blood clot was removed. [Associated Press]
  3. Fire on neighbor's porch leads to charges against Holiday man

    Crime

    HOLIDAY — A Holiday man was arrested Wednesday after authorities say he torched the front porch of his neighbor, who he insisted was holding his daughter hostage.

    Dan Fry, 63, of Holiday was arrested Wednesday on a charge of first-degree arson. [Photo courtesy of Pasco Sheriff's Office]
  4. Port Richey man solicited sex from 13-year-old, Pasco authorities say

    Crime

    PORT RICHEY — A Port Richey man was arrested Wednesday after Pasco County authorities say he solicited sex from a 13-year-old boy on the gay male dating app Grindr.

    Shawn Daly, 43, of Port Richey was charged with solicitation for sexual conduct with a child over a computer. [Photo courtesy of Pasco Sheriff's Office]