By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT — There were protests in New Orleans Saturday, as promised, at Jackson Square and at other Confederate monument sites in the city. The stated goal of these protests, organized by Take ‘Em Down NOLA and BLM, was to bring the monuments down with ropes, if necessary.
They did not succeed.
All of this new hullabaloo is in advance of the September 28 court hearing on the monuments this week.
The event began Saturday in Congo Square in the Treme section of New Orleans and hundreds of protesters began their march to the French Quarter and Jackson Square. The group was comprised of people on both sides – some people were there in support of the monuments and others were opposed.
Interestingly, the Andrew Jackson monument was not one on Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s original hit list. His initial targeted monuments were Lee Circle, Liberty Place monument, P.G.T. Beauregard monument, and the Jefferson Davis monument.
Upon arrival at Jackson Square, the protesters were met with mounted patrols who guarded entrance to the monument. Protesters chanted “No justice, no peace” and some threw paint filled water balloons, much like the vandal that targeted our Confederate monument here in Shreveport a few months ago. The estimate to remove the paint from the Shreveport monument is staggering and the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Shreveport are raising money to help cover the cost. Because the paint soaks into the marble and granite, removal must be done with chemicals and care.
The night before the protests in New Orleans, the PGT Beauregard monument was tagged with red paint: “Burn ‘em Down.” Local preservation groups got out quickly to clean the paint from the base of the monument.
There were about seven people arrested during the protests Saturday, mostly for disturbing the peace; two were arrested for fighting. One had a weapon.
After the protesters moved on from Jackson Square, they marched through the French Quarter and blocked traffic on Canal Street, and finally as it all disbursed and darkness descended on the city, monument watchers were in place through the night to ensure that no more vandalism or violence took place at each of the targeted monuments.
To say that this is a time of great tension in our southern cities is an understatement but after talking to the people that live in New Orleans, most are not concerned with the monuments and never pay them any attention. These protests and agitations are primed primarily by outside BLM groups whose main purpose is to create racial tension. Those monuments have stood for years without notice and without protest.
It all makes me very concerned for our shared history, our heritage (as American, not just north and south), and our future.
And now we wait for the September 28 hearing.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.