Report from Louisiana: Mayor Landrieu’s Plans to Pull Down Monuments in Dead of Night is Exposed

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Report from Louisiana: Mayor Landrieu's Plans to Pull Down Monuments in Dead of Night is Exposed

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – In the con­tin­u­ing saga over the New Orleans Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments, word leaked out late last week that Mayor Mitch Lan­drieu was plan­ning to begin mon­u­ment removal in the dead of night before the Easter hol­i­day weekend.

Sources within the New Orleans police depart­ment con­firmed to The Hayride blog that there were plans in place to begin removal of two mon­u­ments at 1:00 a.m. Thurs­day morn­ing. But, once word leaked out the plans were aban­doned. Landrieu’s office at first denied the claims, then acknowl­edged them.

With the Louisiana leg­is­la­ture now in ses­sion, and with sev­eral bills in play to pre­serve the mon­u­ments, Landrieu’s office is likely feel­ing some pres­sure to get them down quickly.

Mean­while, a feud has erupted between The Advo­cate, Baton Rouge’s flag­ship news­pa­per, and one grass­roots preser­va­tion group, Save Our Cir­cle. The Advo­cate has reported that the Save Our Cir­cle mem­bers are threat­en­ing the con­trac­tor hired to remove the mon­u­ments, a fact the SoS mem­bers deny. Save Our Cir­cle has an active Face­book page with over 13,000 mem­bers and while not all mem­bers live in New Orleans, all do have an inter­est in pre­serv­ing the his­tor­i­cal monuments.

When inter­viewed about the threats, a spokesman for Save our Cir­cle, George Peter­son, explained that their Face­book group is a peace­ful one and that mod­er­a­tors try to block or remove any posts or com­ments that reflect oth­er­wise. At the same time Peter­son pointed out threats made by the Take ‘Em Down NOLA group which seem to rise far and above any­thing Save Our Cir­cle mem­bers tol­er­ate from their members:

Peter­son insisted the Save Our Cir­cle group is peace­ful and that it is sup­port­ers of tak­ing down the mon­u­ments who pose truly vio­lent threats. He pointed to a tire that was set on fire at Con­fed­er­ate Memo­r­ial Hall near Lee Cir­cle after Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and to threats by Take ‘Em Down NOLA — a group push­ing for the removal of the four mon­u­ments and other stat­ues hon­or­ing slave­hold­ers — to drag the statue of Andrew Jack­son in Jack­son Square off its pedestal.

In addi­tion, he said that some of those who showed up at a Sep­tem­ber protest at the Jack­son statue wore masks and car­ried anar­chist flags, and he noted that the mon­u­ments have repeat­edly been van­dal­ized with graf­fiti call­ing for their removal and some more vio­lent mes­sages such as “Die whites die.”

Louisiana’s Lt. Gov­er­nor, Billy Nungesser, opposes removal of the mon­u­ments, as does most of the New Orleans pop­u­la­tion, has appealed to Pres­i­dent Trump to inter­vene:

I implore you to uti­lize the pow­ers bestowed upon the Office of the Pres­i­dent in the Antiq­ui­ties Act, passed by Con­gress in 1906, which granted you the author­ity to declare by pub­lic procla­ma­tion, his­toric and pre­his­toric struc­tures and other objects of his­toric sig­nif­i­cance as national mon­u­ments,” Nungesser wrote to Trump, accord­ing to WWL-​TV.

With Lan­drieu now hav­ing made clear he has no qualms about mov­ing in the dead of night to remove the mon­u­ments, every­one is now on high alert. Leg­is­la­tors are get­ting slammed with emails and phone calls from all over the coun­try to sup­port the preser­va­tion bills.

Regard­less of how one feels about the Con­fed­er­acy or about mon­u­ments in gen­eral, the big­ger issue is the slip­pery slope this argu­ment rep­re­sents. The ever present “What is next?” ques­tion looms. Some are now even call­ing for removal of lamp posts in NOLA.

Where does it stop?

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  In the continuing saga over the New Orleans Confederate monuments, word leaked out late last week that Mayor Mitch Landrieu was planning to begin monument removal in the dead of night before the Easter holiday weekend.

Sources within the New Orleans police department confirmed to The Hayride blog that there were plans in place to begin removal of two monuments at 1:00 a.m. Thursday morning.  But, once word leaked out the plans were abandoned. Landrieu’s office at first denied the claims, then acknowledged them.

With the Louisiana legislature now in session, and with several bills in play to preserve the monuments, Landrieu’s office is likely feeling some pressure to get them down quickly.

Meanwhile, a feud has erupted between The Advocate, Baton Rouge’s flagship newspaper, and one grassroots preservation group, Save Our Circle. The Advocate has reported that the Save Our Circle members are threatening the contractor hired to remove the monuments, a fact the SoS members deny. Save Our Circle has an active Facebook page with over 13,000 members and while not all members live in New Orleans, all do have an interest in preserving the historical monuments.

When interviewed about the threats, a spokesman for Save our Circle, George Peterson, explained that their Facebook group is a peaceful one and that moderators try to block or remove any posts or comments that reflect otherwise.  At the same time Peterson pointed out threats made by the Take ‘Em Down NOLA group which seem to rise far and above anything Save Our Circle members tolerate from their members:

Peterson insisted the Save Our Circle group is peaceful and that it is supporters of taking down the monuments who pose truly violent threats. He pointed to a tire that was set on fire at Confederate Memorial Hall near Lee Circle after Donald Trump’s presidential election and to threats by Take ‘Em Down NOLA — a group pushing for the removal of the four monuments and other statues honoring slaveholders — to drag the statue of Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square off its pedestal.

In addition, he said that some of those who showed up at a September protest at the Jackson statue wore masks and carried anarchist flags, and he noted that the monuments have repeatedly been vandalized with graffiti calling for their removal and some more violent messages such as “Die whites die.”

Louisiana’s Lt. Governor, Billy Nungesser, opposes removal of the monuments, as does most of the New Orleans population, has appealed to President Trump to intervene:

“I implore you to utilize the powers bestowed upon the Office of the President in the Antiquities Act, passed by Congress in 1906, which granted you the authority to declare by public proclamation, historic and prehistoric structures and other objects of historic significance as national monuments,” Nungesser wrote to Trump, according to WWL-TV.

With Landrieu now having made clear he has no qualms about moving in the dead of night to remove the monuments, everyone is now on high alert. Legislators are getting slammed with emails and phone calls from all over the country to support the preservation bills.

Regardless of how one feels about the Confederacy or about monuments in general, the bigger issue is the slippery slope this argument represents. The ever present “What is next?” question looms.  Some are now even calling for removal of lamp posts in NOLA.

Where does it stop?

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.