Every year, the legacy of the South is being further marginalized on the public stage, particularly in the form of statue removals and memorial removals. Today in New Orleans:
Workers in New Orleans began removing the first of four prominent Confederate monuments early Monday, the latest Southern institution to sever itself from symbols viewed by many as a representation racism and white supremacy.
Trucks arrived to begin removing the first memorial, one that commemorates whites who tried to topple a biracial post-Civil War government in New Orleans, around 1:25 a.m. in an attempt to avoid disruption from supporters who want the monuments to stay, some of whom city officials said have made death threats.
Workers who were inspecting the statue ahead of its removal could be seen wearing flak jackets and helmets. Police officers watched the area from atop the parking garage of a nearby hotel.
Three other statues to Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis will be removed in later days now that legal challenges have been overcome…
The majority black City Council in 2015 voted 6-1 to approve plans to take the statues down, but legal battles over their fate have prevented the removal until now, said [Mayor] Landrieu, who proposed the monuments’ removal and rode to victory twice with overwhelming support from the city’s black residents…
The first memorial to come down will be the Liberty Monument, an 1891 obelisk honoring the Crescent City White League.
Landrieu has called the Liberty Monument “the most offensive of the four” and said it was erected to “revere white supremacy.”
“If there was ever a statue that needed to be taken down, it’s that one,” he said.
From the Wikipedia page on The Battle of Liberty Place:
The Battle of Liberty Place, or Battle of Canal Street, was an attempted insurrection by the Crescent City White League against the Reconstruction Louisiana state government on September 14, 1874, in New Orleans, where the capital of Louisiana was at that time. Five thousand members of the White League, a paramilitary organization of the Democratic Party, made up largely of Confederate veterans, fought against the outnumbered Metropolitan Police and state militia. The insurgents held the statehouse, armory, and downtown for three days, retreating before arrival of Federal troops that restored the elected government. No insurgents were charged in the action. This was the last major event of violence stemming from the disputed 1872 gubernatorial election, after which Democrat John McEnery and Republican William Pitt Kellogg both claimed victory.
Among those injured in the fighting at Liberty Place was Algernon Sidney Badger, superintendent of the New Orleans Metropolitan Police. Born in Boston and a veteran of the Union Army, he had been living and working in New Orleans since the end of the war.
In 1891, the city erected a monument to commemorate and praise the insurrection from the Democratic Party point of view, which at the time was in firm political control of the city and state and was in the process of disenfranchising most blacks. The white marble obelisk was placed at a prominent location on Canal Street. In 1932, the city added an inscription that expressed a white supremacist view.
In 1974, the rethinking of race relations after the Civil Rights Movement caused the city to add a marker near the monument explaining that the inscription did not express current philosophy. After major construction work on Canal Street in 1989 required that the monument be temporarily removed, it was relocated to a less prominent location and the inscription was altered. In July 2015, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu proposed removing the monument altogether and in December 2015 the New Orleans City Council voted to remove the monument, along with three others deemed a “nuisance”. The monument was dismantled on April 24, 2017.
Of the monument’s inscriptions:
The following inscription was added in 1932:
“[Democrats] McEnery and Penny having been elected governor and lieutenant-governor by the white people, were duly installed by this overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers, Governor Kellogg (white) and Lieutenant-Governor Antoine (colored).
United States troops took over the state government and reinstated the usurpers but the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.”
In 1974, the city government added an adjacent marker, which stated:
“Although the “battle of Liberty Place” and this monument are important parts of the New Orleans history, the sentiments in favor of white supremacy expressed thereon are contrary to the philosophy and beliefs of present-day New Orleans.”
When the monument was moved in 1993, some of the original inscriptions were removed, and replaced with new inscriptions that state in part:
“In honor of those Americans on both sides who died in the Battle of Liberty Place … A conflict of the past that should teach us lessons for the future.”