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. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.