Below is a statement released on the City of New Orleans website:
Today, Mayor Landrieu announced the future plans for the former confederate monument locations and a future course of action for the monuments following the removals in April and May of 2017.
“Over the last few years, momentum has gained across our nation to have a long overdue discussion on the appropriateness of confederate monuments in our communities, and New Orleans was at the forefront of this recent movement. We must never forget that these monuments celebrate the 'Lost Cause of the Confederacy,' that they are a perversion of history – placed in prominent locations in our communities to paint a false narrative of our shared history. While it is hard for people to see that truth, the history is clear – the four statues we removed in New Orleans were erected to blind us from what really happened. These statues were not designed to honor Robert E. Lee, P.G.T Beauregard, Jefferson Davis, or the Battle of Liberty Place; but to perpetuate the Jim Crow era of terror and disenfranchisement. These four statues sent a crystal clear message about who was still in control, notwithstanding the fact that the Confederacy lost the war,” said Mayor Landrieu. “We all witnessed tremendous emotion and saw glimpses of hate that many of us believed were from a bygone era of segregation and division, but in the end, truth prevailed. The courts ruled in our favor, and we did what many thought impossible. I am proud we were able to finish what so many before us had worked so long and so hard to accomplish. We will never forget their courage to challenge the status quo and call for the monuments' removal. Their sacrifice laid a strong foundation for our actions.”
WHAT’S ALREADY HAPPENED
To remove the four confederate monuments from prominent public spaces in New Orleans, the City followed a two-year process, which included multiple public hearings, approvals from three separate community-led commissions, and a vote by the New Orleans City Council. Over that two-year process, the City was sued repeatedly, and City employees and contractors received violent threats, challenges which ultimately prolonged the process and increased removal costs.
In December 2015, Mayor Landrieu signed an ordinance calling for the removal and relocation of the four prominent confederate monuments displayed publicly in New Orleans, citing that these statues did not reflect the diversity, values, or full history of the City and should be removed. 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 statues followed a final 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. In May 2017, Civil District Court Kern Reese denied a third request for preliminary injunction specifically confirming City’s right to move the Beauregard statue.
Removed beginning on April 24, 2017, the Battle of Liberty Place monument was erected by the Crescent City White League to remember the deadly insurrection led by white supremacists against the City’s racially integrated police department and government. The Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway was removed beginning on May 11, 2017. The P.G.T. Beauregard equestrian statue on Esplanade Avenue at the entrance to City Park was removed beginning on May 16, 2017. The process to remove the Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Circle began on May 18, 2017.
On May 19, 2017, the Landrieu Administration removed the Robert E. Lee statue, concluding a two-year process to remove four confederate monuments that prominently celebrated the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy.” The removed 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. After the statue removals and the mayor’s speech “Truth,” there has been a long overdue discussion on the appropriateness of confederate monuments in our communities and many cities have taken similar steps.
WHAT IS GOING IN THE PLACE OF THE FORMER MONUMENTS
Before the end of the Landrieu administration, the City will perform beautification work at the site of the former Robert E. Lee statue and will leave the column that housed the statue intact, and will erect an American flag at the former site of the Jefferson Davis statue.
The City Park Improvement Association will remove the pedestal and perform beautification work at the site of the former P.G.T. Beauregard statue.
The area that formerly housed the Battle of Liberty Place monument will remain as is.
Following the removal of monuments, Mayor Landrieu asked partners and funders around the country to support us in this work. The Ford Foundation, a consistent partner in the rebuilding of New Orleans, stepped up again and committed to help fund a community-based effort, in partnership with the Foundation for Louisiana, that would help recommend what would go in these public spaces.
Today, Mayor Landrieu announced that the Foundation for Louisiana, along with Colloqate Design and other community partners, is partnering with the City to conduct a public process to recommend what should be placed at the former site of the Robert E. Lee statue long-term. The process is expected to continue through fall 2018. This effort is funded by the generosity of the Ford Foundation.
Colloqate, along with other community partners, will organize, design, facilitate, implement, and document the process to ensure that New Orleans residents can help recommend how these public spaces are redeveloped.
Foundation for Louisiana CEO & President Flozell Daniels, Jr. said, “Foundation for Louisiana is excited about this opportunity to join those that came before us, who tirelessly, over decades, led the charge in calling for the removal of confederate statues in our city. Equally important is the commitment to a full and fair reckoning with these symbols that supports a radical reimagining of this and other important public spaces. The ongoing engagement is the first step in an intentional collective process to affirm the significant contributions of every New Orleanian and provides a historic chance to remember and to transform for the better.”
Colloqate’s process, called Paper Monuments, consists of a series of opportunities, events, and interventions designed to elevate the voices of the people of New Orleans, as a critical process to creating symbols of our city that represent our collective vision, and to honor the erased histories of the people, events, movements, and places that have made up the past 300 years as we look to the future. Modeled on the work of Philadelphia’s Monuments Lab, Paper Monuments combines public pedagogy and participatory design to expand our collective understanding of New Orleans, and asks our citizens to answer the question: What is an appropriate monument to our city today?
Foundation for Louisiana will provide an update on the status of the process by the end of June 2018. Following June 2018, the Foundation and Colloqate will continue to provide updates on a monthly basis. For more details, visit www.papermonuments.org or follow @papermonumentsnola on social media.
WHERE WILL THE MONUMENTS GO
The City will not issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit proposals on the future locations of the four removed monuments before the Landrieu administration ends.
The Landrieu administration will defer to the next Mayor and City Council on recommending future locations of the four removed monuments. Currently, the monuments are crated and being stored in City-owned warehouses or secure facilities.
Mayor Landrieu continued, “The removal of the monuments took much longer and was harder than ever anticipated. Following the removal, the city needed a moment to pause and reflect. The process to relocate the four removed monuments should not be rushed. Therefore, we trust that the next administration and City Council will have the appropriate time to begin and finish such a sensitive process.”
HISTORY OF THE STATUES AND THE “LOST CAUSE OF THE CONFEDERACY”
The four confederate monuments in New Orleans were erected between 1884 and 1915, after Reconstruction and during the era of Jim Crow laws. Three depict individuals deeply influential within the Confederacy, and the fourth honors an insurrection of mostly confederate veterans who battled against the City's racially integrated police and state militia.
The Robert E. Lee, the Jefferson Davis, and the P.G.T. Beauregard monuments were erected to promote the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy.” Emerging at the end of the Civil War, the “Lost Cause” was known for espousing a number of principles, including that the war was fought over states’ rights and not slavery, that slavery was a benevolent institution that offered Christianity to African “savages”, and that the war was a just cause in the eyes of God.
The Battle of Liberty Place monument on 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 City’s racially integrated 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 added a plaque to the monument, which stated that the statue commemorated the “overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers…and 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 past location on Iberville Street in 1993. At that time, the 1932 white supremacist plaque was covered with a new slab of granite honoring "those Americans on both sides of the conflict who died.”
The Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway was erected in 1911 in honor of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. It was commissioned by the Jefferson Davis Memorial Association.
The Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Circle was erected in 1884 in honor of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate General for the Army of Northern Virginia, at the site formerly known as “Tivoli Circle.” Despite the fact that Lee has no significant ties to New Orleans, this monument was commissioned by The Robert E. Lee Monumental Association of New Orleans.
The P.G.T. Beauregard equestrian statue on Esplanade Avenue at the entrance to City Park was erected in 1915 in honor of Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, a General of the Confederate army who led the attack on Fort Sumter, which marked the beginning of the Civil War. The Beauregard National Register of Historic Places nomination says that “the General Beauregard Equestrian Statue…is one of three major Louisiana monuments representing what is known by historians as the 'Cult of the Lost Cause.' Statues of this type are tangible symbols of a state of mind which was powerful and pervasive throughout the South well into the twentieth century and some would say even today.”
About Foundation for Louisiana
The mission of Foundation for Louisiana is to invest in people and practices that reduce vulnerability and build stronger, more sustainable communities statewide. Since its founding in 2005, Foundation for Louisiana has invested $41.5 million in more than 200 mission-critical nonprofit organizations working throughout the state towards rebuilding a better Louisiana.
About Colloqate Design
Colloqate Design is a multidisciplinary Non Profit Design Justice practice focused on expanding community access to, and building power through the design of social, civic, and cultural spaces. Our mission is to intentionally organize, advocate, and design spaces of racial, social and cultural equity.