By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – If Hurricane Katrina united New Orleans in the common cause of “love thy neighbor,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu has successfully decimated all remnants of civility and has created a cultural divide that has ripped the city apart and has cast New Orleans in a negative light in the eyes of the national lens.
As Landrieu continues to staunchly defend his decision to remove the city’s Confederate monuments, supporters (both black and white) have taken positions days and night at the monuments to protect them. Two weeks ago Landrieu removed one of the four, the Liberty Place monument, in the dead of night using a team of city firefighters wearing masks and protective armor.
Even as monument supporters had a large measure of victory this week with the passage of HB71 from committee, tension about the monuments rose. This bill would presumably protect the monuments:
House Bill 71 would forbid the removal, renaming or alteration of any military monument of any war, including the “War Between the States,” that is situated on public property. The measure was amended to require the support of a majority of voters in a public election before any monuments could be removed.
Mayor Landrieu is not working fast enough for Take ‘Em Down NOLA and the Antifa crowd, and they announced a rally in New Orleans to take place Sunday, May 7:
TAKE EM DOWN NOLA CALLS FOR PEOPLES CELEBRATION & SECOND LINE TO BURY WHITE SUPREMACY
While white supremacists gather from many states around confederate monuments in OUR CITY, the mayor nor council has still not publicly called for its own ceremony to honor the historic occasion of 4 monuments to slavery coming down. Even the conservative governor of S.C. had a public ceremony to remove the confederate flag.
Cowering in darkness offers no safety or protection, it is shameful and being questioned by world wide media.
What does this say to Black youth? What does this teach white youth?
All eyes are on New Orleans. It is fitting that during Jazz Fest the people have our voices heard. Not just on the monuments, but for racial equality and economic justice for those who built New Orleans, whose heritage is leveraged for profit and who are being displaced.
In the name of the good people of New Orleans, in honor of our civil rights veterans who fought for decades for their removal, in appreciation of the Black community, elders and youth Take Em Down NOLA is issuing this call for everyone to come out!
Meet at Congo Square at 1:30pm.
March to Lee Circle.
Make History! Take down Robert E. Lee and ALL symbols of White Supremacy!
By noon Sunday protesters were gathering on both sides. Monument supporters were getting information and security, how to handle pepper spray attacks, and cautionary information about Antifa. New Orleans police began installing barricades around Lee Circle; the Jefferson Davis monument has been blocked off all week after violent clashes last weekend between both sides.
Large black busses with blacked out windows were moving into the city in the morning filled with Antifa protestors.
But, through the day, for the most part things remained non-violent. Tense, but non-violent. There were a couple of fights and skirmishes that were quickly put down, but by early evening crowds had dispersed and traffic lanes were reopened.
The focus then moved to the Jefferson Davis monument where reports were that a large Antifa group was congregating to harass supporters there. But other than the exchange of hot words, everything was calm.
Overall, thankfully the protests did not end in the free-for-all that was anticipated but what did come out of it all was a clarification that contrary to Governor John Bel Edwards’s stance that the monuments “are a local issue,” clearly it has surpassed that. Mitch Landrieu made it NOT a local issue when he called in State and Federal Law Enforcement from all over the state to New Orleans using Department of Homeland Security emergency measures. This makes is a national issue, being paid for with state and federal tax dollars.
And this means John Bel Edwards now has to get off the fence.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.