The Latest: Groups fight removal of Confederate monuments

AP News
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Posted: Dec 17, 2015 9:13 PM
The Latest: Groups fight removal of Confederate monuments

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The latest developments from a New Orleans City Council meeting and vote Thursday to remove prominent Confederate monuments (all times local):

8 p.m.

Four organizations whose goals are to protect and preserve New Orleans' historic landscape have filed a federal lawsuit to halt efforts to remove four prominent Confederate monuments.

The Louisiana Landmarks Society, Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Monumental Task Committee and Beauregard Camp No. 130 on Thursday challenged the City Council's vote to remove the structures and Mayor Mitch Landrieu's approval of the ordinance.

The mayor says it will cost about $170,000 to remove the monuments, including statues of Confederate Gens. P.G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and an 1891 obelisk honoring the Crescent City White League, which challenged Louisiana's biracial government after the Civil War.

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4:10 p.m.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has signed the monument removal ordinance into law. He says the process to remove three of the monuments will begin within days by finding a contractor to take them down.

One of the monuments is an obelisk dedicated to the Crescent City White League, a white supremacist group that sought to topple a biracial Reconstruction government. The removal of that monument is subject to a federal court order; the city will now take the legal steps needed for that to happen.

The mayor says it will cost about $170,000 to remove the monuments. The city previously has said an anonymous donor has offered to pay for the work.

The city says it plans to put the monuments in a warehouse until officials decide where they should be put in the future — perhaps in a museum or a park.

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1:30 p.m.

New Orleans council members have voted in favor of removing prominent Confederate monuments along some of its busiest streets — a sweeping move by a city seeking to break with its Confederate past.

The council's 6-1 vote on Thursday afternoon allows the city to remove four monuments, including a towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that has stood at the center of a traffic circle for 131 years.

The decision to take down the monuments comes after months of impassioned debate. Now, the city faces possible lawsuits seeking to keep the monuments where they are.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu first proposed taking down these monuments after police said a white supremacist killed nine parishioners inside the African-American Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June.

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1 p.m.

Members of the New Orleans City Council are expressing their views on Confederate monuments in the city, with a majority saying they are offensive and should be removed.

The council members' sentiments echo the emotions in the public, and those supporting the removal are applauded loudly while the two who have spoken against the removal are heckled.

Councilman Jared Brossett says the monuments are symbols of oppression.

Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey said: "It breaks my heart that in 2015 we are still having to dealing with the effects of slavery."

Another City Council member, James Gray, says the monuments do not reflect the true history of New Orleans, a city he says was mostly on the side of the Union and not the Confederacy.

He says the monument to Robert E. Lee is a monument to a criminal.

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12:45 p.m.

A motion to keep two Confederate monuments in place in New Orleans has failed.

Council member at-large Stacy Head asked Thursday to keep large monuments to Confederate commanders Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard in place. But her motion received no support from the seven-person council.

The council is poised to make a sweeping break with its past as it considers removing prominent Confederate monuments from some of its busiest streets.

Head made her motion after public comments at Thursday's meeting. A council vote is to follow.

Head also asked Mayor Mitch Landrieu to spell out future plans for what will happen to other monuments, such as a statue of Andrew Jackson in the French Quarter.

Landrieu says a commission should be established to consider creating a park where the city's history — and the removed monuments — can be explained.

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11:30 a.m.

Divergent views on what should happen to Confederate monuments in New Orleans are being voiced at a lively, and sometimes disorderly, city council meeting.

The Rev. Shawn Anglim, a Methodist pastor, is among clergy who have spoken out in favor of taking down the monuments. Anglim told those gathered at Thursday's meeting to "Do the right thing. Do it for our children, and our children's children."

Opponents of the removal plan want the council to consider alternatives, including erecting other monuments to tell a wider narrative about the Civil War.

Michael Duplantier told the meeting: "We cannot hit a delete button for the messy parts of our history."

Others say the council should go further and remove statues and change street names they say are associated with "white supremacy." Activist Malcolm Suber calls the monuments "products of the Jim Crow era, an era when blacks were hunted and persecuted."

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11 a.m.

The mayor of New Orleans is speaking with passion about why the city's Confederate monuments should be taken down and placed in a Civil War park or museum

Mayor Mitch Landrieu made his remarks Thursday ahead of public comments and a City Council vote on the matter. He says that for New Orleans to move forward, "we must reckon with our past. With eyes wide open, we should truly remember history and not revere a false version of it."

He says the monuments were erected to reinforce the Confederate ideology of slavery. He says keeping them would limit the city's progress.

Landrieu says the monuments also work to divide the city. He used President Abraham Lincoln's famous quote: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

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9:40 a.m.

After nearly six months of debate, supporters and opponents of an ordinance to remove four monuments dedicated to Confederate history in New Orleans are showing up to speak out on the topic before a City Council vote.

A week ago, the council heard from the public at an hours-long meeting that went into the evening. At the emotional meeting, police escorted some speakers from the council's chambers as heckling and insults were passed back and forth.

On Thursday, the City Council hoped to avoid a messy public display and said it was limiting public comments to one hour.

The ordinance calls the monuments a nuisance because they foster ideologies that undermine the equal protection clause provided by the Constitution and because they support the idea of racial supremacy.

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3 a.m.

New Orleans is poised to make a sweeping break with its past as it considers removing prominent Confederate monuments from some of its busiest streets.

Passionate voices have weighed in on both sides of a City Council measure that goes to a vote Thursday. A majority of council members and the mayor support removing four major monuments, which would be one of the strongest gestures yet by American city to sever ties with Confederate history.

New Orleans reflects the national mood. Confederate iconography is being questioned and in some cases erased around the country following what police described as a white supremacist's shooting of nine black people inside a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina.