First Statue Erected to Honor Members of White Supremacist Organization Who Killed New Orleans’ Racially Integrated Police Force; City Announces it has Secured Private Funding for Removal
NEW ORLEANS - Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu began the process of removing statues erected to honor the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy” by taking down the Battle of Liberty Place statue located on Iberville Street. The statue, one of four the City intends to move to a place where they can be put in historical context, was originally erected to honor members of the “Crescent City White League” who fought against the racially integrated City of New Orleans police and state militia. The decision to remove these statues was made after a lengthy public process that determined these statues failed to appropriately reflect the values of diversity and inclusion that make New Orleans strong today.
Other monuments slated for eventual removal include the Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Circle; the Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway; and the P.G.T. Beauregard equestrian statue on Esplanade Avenue at the entrance to City Park. In each case, the statues were erected decades after the Civil War was over as part of the “Cult of the Lost Cause” and to demonstrate that there was no sense of guilt for the cause in which the South fought the Civil War. Despite a prominent statue of him placed in the City, General Robert E. Lee had never set foot in New Orleans.
“The removal of these statues sends a clear and unequivocal message to the people of New Orleans and the nation: New Orleans celebrates our diversity, inclusion and tolerance,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “Relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once. This is about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile -- and most importantly-- choose a better future.We can remember these divisive chapters in our history in a museum or other facility where they can be put in context –and that’s where these statues belong.”
In December 2015, Mayor Landrieu signed an ordinance calling for the removal and relocation of the four prominent Confederate monuments displayed on public property in the City of New Orleans. During a Special Meeting of the New Orleans City Council, members of the City Council voted 6-1 in support of Ordinance Calendar No. 31,082, which declared that the four Confederate monuments are nuisances pursuant to Section 146-611 of the Code of the City of New Orleans and should be removed from their prominent locations in New Orleans.
The removal of the Liberty Place statue follows a decision on March 8, 2017 by the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana affirming the City’s legal right to remove the statue.
After initially moving the statues to storage, the City will seek a museum or other facility to relocate the statue.
Because of the security risk and threats placed on contractors seeking to do the work, details about future statue removals will not be provided to the public.
Additionally, today, the City announced that it has secured the private funding necessary to relocate all four statues.
About the Liberty Place Monument
The Battle of Liberty Place Monument at Iberville Street, was erected in 1891 (originally on Canal Street) in honor of the “Battle of Liberty Place,” an 1874 insurrection of the Crescent City White League, a group of all white, mostly Confederate veterans, who battled against the racially integrated New Orleans Metropolitan Police and state militia. The monument was meant to honor the members of the White League who died during the battle. In 1932, the City of New Orleans added a plaque to the monument, explicitly outlining its white supremacist sympathies, which explained that the battle was fought for the “overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers" and that “the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state."
In 1989, construction on Canal Street forced the removal of the monument, but it was relocated to its current location on Iberville Street in 1993. At that time, the 1932 white supremacist plaque was covered with a new plaque that read: “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.”