By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Now that Mitch Landrieu has removed four Confederate era monuments in New Orleans, supposedly we can expect two things as stated by the mayor himself:

  1. Crime will drop and the city will unify.
  2. New Orleans population will swell to pre-Katrina numbers.

Over the past few weeks Landrieu has used the city’s firefighters and police force to work, masked and in the dark of night, to remove these four landmarks which are now in an unsecured maintenance trash yard in NOLA.

Some reflections on this entire ordeal:

The citizens of New Orleans never got to vote on this. A city council vote of 6-1 sealed the fate of the monuments.

Various local media polls in New Orleans showed a majority supported leaving the monuments in place. The monument opponents, however, were more vocal.

Mitch Landrieu credits former NOLA resident Wynton Marsalis with the impetus to remove the monuments. Marsalis, who lives in New York, penned an OpEd for the Times-Picayune in December 2015 in which he stated:

“When one surveys the accomplishments of our local heroes across time from Iberville and Bienville, to Andrew Jackson, from Mahalia Jackson, to Anne Rice and Fats Domino, from Wendell Pierce, to John Besh and Jonathan Batiste, what did Robert E. Lee do to merit his distinguished position? He fought for the enslavement of a people against our national army fighting for their freedom; killed more Americans than any opposing general in history; made no attempt to defend or protect this city; and even more absurdly, he never even set foot in Louisiana.”

The statement about Lee never setting foot in New Orleans is patently false as Robert E. Lee was stationed at Jackson Barracks and was in the city numerous times over several years.

Mitch Landrieu has displayed an astounding lack of transparency on the removal process. Landrieu promised the courts that qualified contractors would be used in removal. This was a lie. Landrieu used city firefighters to remove the monuments and live feeds of the removal of each monument was evidence enough of their ineptness and inexperience with removal of priceless works of public art as the statues twirled perilously at the end of straps rigged around them supported by bubble wrap and while removal cranes burned rubber trying to get closer to their targets and leaked hydraulic fluid everywhere.

In his victory speech last week, Landrieu claimed that the monuments caused a great exodus from the city:

“I will say this for the people that are interested in the costs. The cultural, economic, and spiritual loss to the city for having those statues up that have run people out of the city. The great migration that sent some of our best and brightest to place across the country that we don’t have the benefit of has been incredible.” said Landrieu.

It’s as if it never crossed his mind that high crime, pot-hole ridden streets, corrupt government, failing schools, no jobs, and high taxes might be a contributing factor to the problems in New Orleans.

In truth, Hurricane Katrina caused the population exodus and the city’s population has been on a steady climb back to pre-Katrina numbers ever since.

As we reflect over the travesty of the Landrieu administration, one has to consider his motives in all of this. There have been rumors of a job offer from Al Sharpton for Landrieu, there have been rumors of the mayor having national political ambitions, and there have been rumors of motivations in Landrieu’s personal life for removal of these monuments.

Water under the bridge.

What is left in the wake of all this is a once beautiful city now more racially divided than ever. A city that came together in unity after Hurricane Katrina that is now ripped and torn at the seams. A city with a crime rate that makes it the most dangerous city in the country.

As I have documented this story on this blog through the past months, it has been with the purpose to acknowledge that this can happen in any city in any state in the country. As a people we must find a way to live together and to reconcile ourselves with our differing opinions and perspectives. States all across the South are struggling with this Civil War monument issue – some choosing to protect their monuments and some not. Some choose to add other monuments to appease the opponents (they call it ”balancing the story” but it is appeasement). Some choose to add “interpretive plaques” that retell the story in a more politically correct light.

The ignorance of our society, and the willingness to too many to avoid the study of history, is where this emanates from. Had Mitch Landrieu done one iota of research, for example, he would have known that Robert E. Lee had been in New Orleans. That was never the point.

Landrieu’s point was to “correct history,” as he told TIME magazine.  Now that’s a monumental ego for you.

As for the crime issue, the city has 76 murders this year so far, well above the rate last year.  And on Saturday night, for example, with all four monuments now gone, the shootings and violence continue. Two men were shot in downtown New Orleans Saturday night and another stabbed with a screwdriver.

Thank goodness the city is unified now.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Another week, another Confederate era monument gone.  In the early morning hours Thursday morning, the twenty-five foot bronze statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was ripped from its granite pedestal by city crews (which one again included city firefighters) hiding behind masks as monument supporters who had stood vigil all night long quietly sang “Dixie.” Some stood and solemnly saluted the desecrated statue of Davis as the statue was lowered onto a rented flatbed truck..

Crews gathered around the statue just after midnight, partially wrapped the statue’s mid-section in green bubble wrap, tied a thick yellow strap around the torso, and lifted the statue, Davis’s arm pointing at both demonstrators and supporters as the statue twirled in mid-air.  A makeshift crate was placed around Davis and crews lowered the statue onto the back of a flatbed truck and hauled it off to an undisclosed warehouse.

The pedestal is another matter – it took the untrained city contractors several more hours to figure out how to remove the heavy granite pedestal which sat most of the morning with a limp strap around it while engineers phoned into television stations warning that if it was lifted it would probably tip the truck over. It is as if Jefferson Davis himself was mocking them, declaring his right to be there as the inscription on the pedestal reads, “His name is enshrined in the hearts of the people for whom he suffered, and his deeds are forever wedded to immortality.”

Arlene Barnum was there. She came to New Orleans as soon as Mayor Landrieu had Liberty Place monument removed three weeks ago; she’s been standing guard at the Jefferson Davis monument day in and day out with a growing crowd of supporters. Arlene is a 63-year old black woman from Oklahoma, an Army veteran, and a woman with Confederate ancestors from north Louisiana. She felt that as “the one and only president of the Confederacy,” she was obligated to stand with Davis. As she stood at the monument, Arlene has been called a variety of racial slurs: “Aunt Jemima” seems to have been the most offensive to her. Her truck tires were slashed, her cell phone was knocked from her hand as she tried to live stream, and she has gone without much sleep.

Arlene has been dubbed “General Arlene” by some of the other monument supporters standing guard with her, and they have followed her lead. She has encouraged peaceful protest and non-violence.  “Fly those flags high,” she would shout, “Keep ‘em up! Don’t let that flag touch the ground!” Pastor Larry Beane from Salem Lutheran Church led the crowd in a prayer service before the city workers came to dismantle the monument.

Mitch Landrieu spent the evening hobnobbing with donors at the home of Mary Matalin and James Carville for Mitch Landrieu’s NOLA Pac.

Thursday morning Landrieu issued a statement:

After nearly two years of planning and court battles, City officials began the process today of removing the three remaining monuments that prominently celebrate the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy.” The statues that are being removed 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.

There are four prominent monuments in question. The Battle of Liberty Place monument, which was removed three weeks ago, was erected by the Crescent City White League to remember the deadly insurrection led by white supremacists against the City’s racially integrated police department and government. The statue coming down today is the Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway. The statues slated to come down next include the Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Circle and the P.G.T. Beauregard equestrian statue on Esplanade Avenue at the entrance to City Park.

“Three weeks ago, we began a challenging but long overdue process of removing four statues that honor the ‘Lost Cause of the Confederacy.’ Today we continue the mission,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “These monuments have stood not as historic or educational markers of our legacy of slavery and segregation, but in celebration of it. I believe we must remember all of our history, but we need not revere it. To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in some of our most prominent public places is not only an inaccurate reflection of our past, it is an affront to our present, and a bad prescription for our future. We should not be afraid to confront and reconcile our past.”

There is much about this statement that I personally find disturbing. Mayor Landrieu shows his gross gap of historical knowledge and research when he contends that the monument were erected to celebrate and promote white supremacy. That could not be more wrong.

The majority of the Confederate era monuments across the South were funded by memorial associations and by the Daughters of the Confederacy to honor their war dead. They wanted to honor the sons and husbands that would never come home, many of whom were buried in places unknown. Additionally, the monuments were intended to be instructional and to serve as historical reminders of that war, to teach future generations. For Landrieu to slant their intent in such a way is flatly irresponsible.

Landrieu’s statement goes on to say that “we must remember all of our history, but we need not revere it.” Who is he to tell us what we can and can not revere? Who made him the moral judge of society?

And when he calls the Confederacy “an inaccurate reflection of our past,” what is he saying about my ancestors that fought in that war? About the thousands of other men and boys who fought in that war on both sides?

Finally, when Landrieu says, “we should not be afraid to confront and reconcile our past,” let me just suggest that he is MOST afraid of it or he wouldn’t have our past crated up in the dark of night and hauled off to some undisclosed warehouse.

Rumors are that he will sell the monuments to Whitney Plantation where they will be mocked and derided as relics of men who defended slavery. So much for presenting an accurate representation of history.

Still to come down in New Orleans is the P.G.T. Beauregard monument and the Robert E. Lee monument. The protests and violence will continue, and the rift between groups grows wider.

As New Orleans scrapes away everything that once made it unique and historic, it will soon become just like any other city in America and there will be no reason to go visit. It is being turned over to the Antifa liberals and now has a higher homicide rate than Chicago, but please, let’s worry about monuments instead.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

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.

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Arlene Barnum is a 63-year old Army veteran, a black woman, and is on the front lines in New Orleans standing guard at the Jefferson Davis monument.

Arlene lives in Sulpher, Oklahoma but had been in north Louisiana in the small community of Keachi in DeSoto parish to attend an annual Confederate memorial service where her ancestors who fought for the Confederacy are buried. Arlene attends the ceremony every year and maintains her family’s graves there. She was raised in north Louisiana and takes great pride in her Confederate ancestry.

The day after the memorial service Mitch Landrieu removed one of the four targeted Confederate monuments in New Orleans in the dead of night, using firefighters working undercover, behind masks and flak jackets.  Arlene decided to drive to NOLA rather than return to Oklahoma and there she has been, standing guard every night at the feet of Jefferson Davis.  There has been a growing crowd around her each night of fellow supporters, most of them with the various flags of the Confederacy, including the much maligned battle flag.

No stranger to racial violence, Arlene live streams her vigil every night. She has now posted hours of video on Facebook. She doesn’t engage those that attempt to challenge her or debate her right to defend the monument.  “They don’t care about education,” she says. “They come up to me and ask me to tell them about the Confederacy, I tell them to look it up. They don’t care what I have to say.” She just wants to stand guard peacefully.

Yet Saturday night things got heated. Saturday night a millennial liberal assaulted Arlene, hurling racial insults at her and then swatting Arlene’s phone to the ground. It was all captured on video. Arlene has filed a police report and obviously there are excellent pictures of the woman, but will she be found? Will the police even look for her?

Also on video from Saturday night are New Orleans police officers called to the scene who said they have been told to “stand down” by the mayor’s office. They are not to enforce peace at these demonstrations that are now ripping New Orleans apart. They are not to act. While Arlene Barnum did insist they make a report on her assault, it is doubtful much will come of it.

Mayor Landrieu has come under fire in the past few days by the firefighter’s union who object to his using firefighters to do his dirty work.

“The bottom line is with these Confederate monuments, it’s not really something we deal with as firefighters,” New Orleans Fire Fighters Associations President Nick Felton said, addressing reporters after almost an hour inside City Hall speaking with Landrieu’s team. “We should not be in riot gear. We should not be doing police-type work and we are absolutely concerned, you know, that that type of thing is going on.”

Members of the New Orleans Fire Department gathered for a rally Saturday and announced a vote of no confidence in their fire chief.

During the lengthy litigation as the monument issue made its way through the court system, all the way to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Landrieu assured the courts that monument removal would be done safely by contractors trained in monument removal. Obviously this was not the case.

Landrieu had only one contractor submit a bid to remove the monuments and it was far and above the money he had collected “from private donations” to fund removal, so apparently he decided to use city resources.  He is now using a private non-profit group (exempt from public scrutiny) to fund removal.

Landrieu’s decision to have police officers stand down is a clear attempt to further his cause to remove these monuments to history. He has stated that the monuments are “nuisances” and contribute to the racial divide in the city. If there are now protests, violence, and assaults of 63-year old women, this serves to support his position. Arlene Barnum is smart enough to know that engaging the opposing side only supports Landrieu and provokes more heated confrontations and she has tried to protest quietly and without conflict.

Monument supporters standing guard at the P.G.T. Beauregard monument have been assaulted with paintball guns, had bottles and rocks thrown at them, and endure a barrage of verbal insults. Still the police stand down.  Like Arlene Barnum, Andrew Duncomb, (aka The Black Rebel), streams live on Facebook from his position at Beauregard. Duncomb is less reticent than Arlene Barnum in verbal engagement and things at Beauregard have been heated as well.

It seems at this point Mayor Landrieu has been successful in removing one of his four targeted monuments, created a terrible racial divide in an already troubled city, compromised the position of the New Orleans Fire Department, and probably broken a few laws in having them remove Liberty Place monument, and he has created an ocean of ill will.

The intensity escalates and we can only wait to see what the coming days will bring. We can only hope that there are no more physical attacks on people like Arlene Barnum who are peacefully executing their rights to free speech.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport

Previous Posts at DaTechGuy blog:
Mitch Landrieu Begins his Plan to Erase History in NOLA (4/24/17)
Mayor Landrieu’s Plans to Remove Monuments in the Dead of Night Exposed (4/17/2017)
The Slippery Slope is Now Open (3/27/17)
A Disappointing Ruling from the 5th Circuit (3/13/17)
Still Fighting the Civil War (2/5/17)
Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Solution to 172 Murders: Equity Circles (12/26/16)
Removal of Historic Confederate Monuments in New Orleans Thwarted — For Now (12/21/2015)
Report from Louisiana: Update on the Confederate Monument Removal Controversy (1/18/2016)
The Lives of My Ancestors Mattered Too (2/1/2016)
The Ongoing Battle of the Confederate Monuments: An Update (4/18/2016)
Confederate Monuments and Unintended Consequences (6/27/16)
Report from Louisiana: Revisionist History and Confederate Monuments (9/19/2016)
Report from Louisiana: Mass Shooting in New Orleans While Landrieu Fiddles (11/28/2016)


Previous Posts on And So it Goes in Shreveport:

List of Offensive Monuments, Streets, Names in NOLA …is Puzzling (4/23/17)
Confederate Monument Removal Scheduled for 1:00 a.m. Monday (4/22/17)
The Confederate Battle Flag Rises Again in South Carolina (2/6/17)
Can the Violence in NOLA be Alleviated with Equity Circles? (12/26/16)
Shreveport Work of Art Still Needs Funding for Restoration (10/22/16)
Can You Help Clio? Restoration Fundraiser is Now Underway (9/5/16)
Epperson Demands UDC Remove Confederate Monument Within the Year (7/6/16)
Epperson’s Continued Attack on the Confederate Monument (6/22/16)
Report from the Caddo Commission Meeting in Which Ken Epperson Blasts “Jake-Leg Bloggers” (6/9/16)
Caddo Parish Confederate Monument Under Attack (5/19/16)
Joseph Welsh Texada’s Life Mattered Too (1/31/16)
The Heartbreaking Removal of the New Orleans Confederate Monuments (1/17/16)

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT (327 miles from NOLA) –  We knew it was coming, we just didn’t know which one. As promised, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu began the process of removing historic monuments in the city  last night.

They came in the dead of night wearing body protection gear and masks; the license plates were removed from their trucks. The company name was covered with tape and cardboard. Snipers loomed nearby in a parking garage. Men in a cherry picker were lifted to the top of the monument and began the process of drilling into and dismantling in sections the Liberty Place monument.

Police kept the protestors behind barricades. “Where’s your work permit? As a citizen I want to see your work permit!” one man yelled.

Liberty Monument

The 35-foot granite obelisk was taken down in four sections, placed on the back of a flatbed truck, and taken away to some storage facility. All that remains now is a scarred block of concrete.

Landrieu promises that the other three targeted monuments, P.G.T. Beauregard monument, Jefferson Davis monument, and the towering Robert E. Lee monument in Lee Circle will come down “sooner rather than later,” in the next few days.

The Liberty Place monument was erected in 1891 to commemorate those killed during the Battle of Liberty Place which took place in 1874 between the hated Reconstructionists, or carpet-baggers,  and the old order of New Orleans who wanted their city back.  You can read about the battle and the history here, at least as long as Landrieu leaves the site there.

Landrieu says of the four targeted monuments, this one more than any other needed to come down because it honors white supremacy.  His opponents contend that this may have been a tragic time in our country’s history but people lost their lives there and this event was an important part of the city’s history. To erase it is criminal.

Monday morning, Landrieu said, “The removal of these statues sends a clear and unequivocal message to the people of New Orleans and the nation: New Orleans celebrates diversity, inclusion and tolerance.”

One could argue that point, too.  He clearly is not showing tolerance for those who wish the monuments to remain. No vote was ever taken; the New Orleans citizenry never got to vote on this issue and polls indicate that 73% of the city want the monuments to remain.

With murders and shootings at an all time high in New Orleans, with streets almost impossible to navigate because of potholes, with a large homeless population whose needs are unmet, many question Landrieu’s priorities. Rather than building Equity Circles and taking down historic monuments, perhaps the city would be better served if he took care of those needs first.  Removing these monuments is creating a racial divide of epic proportions and will affect tourism as conventions are relocated and a rising call for a boycott grows.

This is not the end. Once Landrieu and his cronies who are instigating him, the hate group Take ‘Em Down NOLA, more sanitizing of history will come. TEDNola has an entire agenda laid out on their website of names in NOLA that they feel must be changed including Tulane University.

If you think this is just a problem for New Orleans, I would suggest you rethink that. Already many are comparing Landrieu’s actions to those of Isis in taking down cultural markers. The Facebook memes have already started and are scathing, including one of the Superdome flying a Nazi flag. This can happen to any monument, in any city, in any state if we don’t study history and learn from it.  To attempt to erase that history or to negate the lives of those who have gone before us is a grave error.

It is a sad day for those of us who believe in preservation.

There is a great timeline of last night events with excellent photos here.

 

Previous Posts at DaTechGuy blog:
Mayor Landrieu’s Plans to Remove Monuments in the Dead of Night Exposed (4/17/2017)
The Slippery Slope is Now Open (3/27/17)
A Disappointing Ruling from the 5th Circuit (3/13/17)
Still Fighting the Civil War (2/5/17)
Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Solution to 172 Murders: Equity Circles (12/26/16)
Removal of Historic Confederate Monuments in New Orleans Thwarted — For Now (12/21/2015)
Report from Louisiana: Update on the Confederate Monument Removal Controversy (1/18/2016)
The Lives of My Ancestors Mattered Too (2/1/2016)
The Ongoing Battle of the Confederate Monuments: An Update (4/18/2016)
Confederate Monuments and Unintended Consequences (6/27/16)
Report from Louisiana: Revisionist History and Confederate Monuments (9/19/2016)
Report from Louisiana: Mass Shooting in New Orleans While Landrieu Fiddles (11/28/2016)


Previous Posts on And So it Goes in Shreveport:
The Confederate Battle Flag Rises Again in South Carolina (2/6/17)
Can the Violence in NOLA be Alleviated with Equity Circles? (12/26/16)
Shreveport Work of Art Still Needs Funding for Restoration (10/22/16)
Can You Help Clio? Restoration Fundraiser is Now Underway (9/5/16)
Epperson Demands UDC Remove Confederate Monument Within the Year (7/6/16)
Epperson’s Continued Attack on the Confederate Monument (6/22/16)
Report from the Caddo Commission Meeting in Which Ken Epperson Blasts “Jake-Leg Bloggers” (6/9/16)
Caddo Parish Confederate Monument Under Attack (5/19/16)
Joseph Welsh Texada’s Life Mattered Too (1/31/16)
The Heartbreaking Removal of the New Orleans Confederate Monuments (1/17/16)

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 – This is the saddest thing I’ve read this week: it’s the removal instructions for bidders competing for the job of removing three Confederate statues in New Orleans.

In a disappointing decision last week, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals gave the go ahead for the removal of the monuments:

In the ruling, the three-judge panel with the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the groups trying to block the removal of the monuments, Monumental Task Committee and the Louisiana Landmarks Society, failed to present a case that contained a legal argument that showed the monuments should stay up. The court wrote that the groups relied on two legal claims, “both of which wholly lack legal viability or support.”

Immediately following the decision, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s team opened up the bidding process, this time with the promise of confidentiality for the bidders. The last time bids were solicited, things turned ugly when bidders were threatened and in once case a Lamborghini was torched.

In an interview with NPR on Saturday, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu said that it’s important to take the statues down for the reason that post-Katrina he and his staff decided to rebuild the city as “it always should have been and not the way that it’s been developed over time” – as if he is the only person that gets to decide that. Landrieu says the Robert E. Lee statue is there for the sole reason that Lee led an army against the United States of America for the purposes of telling African Americans that they were less than human.”  I contend that Mayor Landrieu needs a few history classes.

In an opinion piece at The Hayride, Mike Bayham points out that public opinion is “tepid” on removal:

Why the city of New Orleans seems to be in such a rush to knock [the monuments] off their respective pedestals is curious as 1) two polls conducted in the city showed only tepid support for removing the monuments (34% and 50%) and 2) the city has yet to figure out what to do with the statues.

It is unclear at this point what the next step will be. There is growing sentiment now that at least with regard to the Lee monument, which stands 16.5 feet tall atop a 68-foot tall pedestal, the city should be required to remove the entire pedestal, which it is reluctant to do.  Supporters do not want Landrieu to be able to plop a monument to a character of his own choosing atop the Lee pedestal.

Certainly once we begin to sanitize and remove history we are on a slippery slope. There is no end to it. Regardless of how one feels on the issue of the Confederacy, once we begin removing works of public art because of dissenting opinions we are no better than censors and become one with the propagandists who would have you stick your head in the sand, ready to rewrite history.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

 

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) are in a political tug-of-war centering on the rising crime rate in Louisiana’s most popular tourist destination.  In 2016, shootings in New Orleans increased by almost 25%, and homicides rose by 7%.  AG Landry blames Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s poor leadership for the uptick in crime while Landrieu contends Landry has no authority over him or law enforcement in New Orleans.

AG Landry has taken to Twitter in recent days with the hashtag #MakeNewOrleansSafeAgain in an effort to draw attention to his efforts to reduce crime in the city and his own violent crimes task force which operates outside of the NOLA police department. Landry points out that “Chicago has about 20 murders per 100,000 people. New Orleans is experiencing twice that many at 40 murders per 100,000 people.”

Landry insists that Landrieu is in part to blame in the increase in crime due to his agreement to enter into a five-year consent decree with Eric Holder’s Justice Department in 2012. This agreement is projected to cost NOLA over $55 million over the course of its duration.  The consent decree came about on the heels of violence in Ferguson and other cities after federal investigation of police departments reportedly engaging in civil rights violations; cities across the nation such as Albuquerque, Cleveland, and Seattle have all entered into consent decrees with varying degrees of success.

Generally, the police departments often feel hindered by the decree:

The head of the Police Association of New Orleans agrees that the consent decree is at least partly to blame for a rise in crime in a department that remains roughly 350 officers short of the state goal of 1,600.

“Because of the oversight, officers are reluctant to initiate contact,” said PANO President Michael Glasser. “…The consent decree requires a lot of oversight and redundancy, and while that probably creates a better work product, it’s labor intensive and time consuming, and we lack labor. What used to take an hour or two now takes two or three or four.”

AG Landry refers to the consent decree as the “Hug a Thug Program” and believes that officers need more help, thus his task force, and he’s probably going to push for more money from the state legislature to expand the program:

To do so he’s going to need funding, obviously, so it’s a good bet where this is going is a push at the legislature this spring to get more money for the Violent Crime Task Force to increase its presence in New Orleans and push past NOPD to make a difference.

If the legislature goes along with Landry, then John #Fail Edwards will have to sign off on it which will be particularly interesting as he is often at political odds with both Landry and Landrieu.

Some see Landry’s intervention as a power grab:

But there’s some question – at least by NOPD Chief Harrison – as to whether Landry’s office should be investigating crimes in New Orleans. Harrison sent a letter to Landry Wednesday asserting that “we are aware of no authority that permits you, your employees, or law enforcement agents under your direction to engage in active law enforcement within New Orleans or in general.”

Under the city’s Home Rule Charter, the mayor of New Orleans is the chief law enforcement authority for Orleans Parish, according to Harrison. Landry is the chief law enforcement officer for the state.

Landry insists he has no political agenda here, saying that public safety and tourism dollars are at stake:

This is not about politics; my effort is about protecting Louisiana lives and our economy tied to tourism in New Orleans. While my office works to stop crime all over Louisiana, the spike in crime within our state’s largest city is alarming. That is why I announced this initiative and why we are taking action.”

The numbers don’t lie. Crime has indeed spiked in New Orleans and the city ended 2016 with 176 murders. As 2017 opens and the Crescent City anxiously awaits the decision from the Fifth Circuit on the Confederate monuments issue, due any day now, tensions in the city are certain to rise and it’s not difficult to see why Landry’s task force might be a potential benefit to a city that clearly needs a little backup.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT –  “It will be back to business as normal. Nobody cares.”  That statement from a woman who has worked in the French Quarter for six years is simply tragic.

“Nobody cares.”

Early Sunday morning, around 1:40 a.m., ten people were shot near the intersection of Bourbon and Iberville in the historic French Quarter. The gunfire sent tourists and locals running in panic. Some of the clubs closed their doors to keep out the violence. One of the reported shooters is dead and there are several arrests. It’s a tragedy all around but the sad thing is that this happens in NOLA more often than not – it’s only when it gets close to the tourist areas that you hear about it.

New Orleans is a beautiful, culturally diverse, fascinating city. Under the guidance of mayor Mitch Landrieu it has degenerated into a violent, lawless disaster. I hate to say it because I love New Orleans. It’s a city that gets in your blood and lures you back. The food, the music, the eclectic street vendors, and the people above all, are for the most part intoxicating.

Sadly, the policies of Mayor Landrieu are going to kill the tourist trade if something isn’t done. Landrieu is more focused on things of lesser importance than the blood in the streets, things like removing monuments, for example. Landrieu spent much of 2015 fighting against the four major Confederate monuments in the city. I’ve written about that issue here, here, and here on this blog. Once that issue was safely nestled into the lengthy court dockets and appeals process, Landrieu moved on to gun control laws.  A decision on the monuments is imminent from the U.S. Court of Appeals and tensions are already high.

In April 2016, Landrieu proposed a new series of gun control laws which was passed and signed into law in September. Most of the ordinances are already on the books so it was an exercise in redundancy at best. New Orleans had 165 murders in 2015, up from 150 in 2014. As of October 17, 2016, NOLA is on pace to meet or exceed that number with 134 murders.  Note that number does not include shootings that don’t end up as murder statistics, such as those nine non-fatal victims in this most recent shooting.

Last week a commander of the police department issued a warning to women not to travel alone after dark in the city due to a rising number of robberies and car jackings:

“I would suggest to any female, if they can prevent it, do not travel alone overnight,” said Second District Commander Shaun Ferguson. “If you absolutely have to, stay on the phone with someone and let them know where you’re going. Keep them abreast of your whereabouts.”

A female college student from Tulane was carjacked early Tuesday when another car struck hers from the rear. As she got out of the car, three men from the other vehicle got out and one of them pushed her to the ground. That man got into her car, while the other two jumped into their vehicle and fled.

The Confederate monuments are clearly not the problem; the problem lies in Landrieu’s failure to address the violence in the streets in any meaningful fashion. In recent protests at Lee Circle after Trump’s election, vandals were tagging the monument and other prominent buildings with paint, setting fires on the lawn at the circle, blocking traffic, and running rampant through the streets. Unconfirmed reports were that Landrieu told police to stand down and let them “peacefully protest.”

There is a small group of citizens who watch over the monuments in New Orleans. They patrol nightly to ensure that no vandalism is occurring and should someone tag one of the monuments, the group removes it quickly. Citizens are policing their own city because the mayor has ginned up such hate and divisiveness that it’s the only way to protect the history and culture of the city.

And the locals are worried: with Mardi Gras season just around the corner, how will the increased violence affect tourism? Will it be safe to go into massive crowds to attend parades?  The comments on news reports of the most recent shooting indicate people’s anxiety:

“And this is why we no longer stay in NOLA…..Mayor Mitch Landrieu and his city council need to concentrate on crime and not on tearing down history….We will be staying in Biloxi next weekend for the Saints game! So sad……”

“New Orleans is out of control. Our Mardi Gras is going to be a blood bath if things don’t change and I don’t see a change coming.”

New Orleans is stuck with Mitch Landrieu until 2018.

That’s almost 200 more lives in the balance.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

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.