New Orleans Confederate monuments can come down -U.S. court

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By Letitia Stein

<span class="articleLocation”>New Orleans can remove several high-profile
monuments honoring leaders of the Confederacy, a U.S. appeals
court has ruled, but critics of the decision vowed on Tuesday to
keep fighting to retain them.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he was beginning the
removal process after the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on
Monday lifted an injunction halting such action.

The monuments honor Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and
P.G.T. Beauregard – leaders of the Confederacy in the
pro-slavery South during the U.S. Civil War.

Confederate flags and other symbols have been removed from
civic centers across the United States over the last two years
following criticism that the displays foster racism.

The New Orleans city council voted in 2015 to remove the
Confederate memorials, following the shooting deaths of nine
black churchgoers in South Carolina.

The city plans to move them into storage and eventually
create a park or museum to display them in context.

The three-judge panel noted its ruling did not address how
communities should “memorialize, preserve, and acknowledge their
distinct histories.”

“Wise or unwise, the ultimate determination made here, by
all accounts, followed a robust democratic process,” it noted.

To some New Orleans residents, the monuments symbolize
heritage, not hate.

Several organizations involved in historic preservation have
fought the removal, proposing instead to add signage explaining
context and erect new monuments recognizing additional community
leaders.

“We think that’s the answer: Not to denigrate any cultural
heritage group, but just to add to the diversity which makes New
Orleans so great,” said Pierre McGraw, president of the
Monumental Task Committee Inc, a volunteer group that has
maintained city monuments for nearly three decades.

He noted his organization, along with several others, still
has litigation pending in lower courts and is weighing legal
options. There is also discussion about state legislation.

“We’re not giving up,” McGraw said in a telephone interview.

City officials did not immediately share details about the
timing of the removal. The mayor said after Monday’s ruling that
bids for removal would be released within a day. Proceedings are
more complicated for a fourth targeted monument to a post-Civil
War violent insurrection led by whites.

“Moving the location of these monuments — from prominent
public places in our city where they are revered to a place
where they can be remembered — changes only their geography, not
our history,” Landrieu said in a statement on Monday.



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