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Confederate New Orleans monument comes down

Posted at 10:10 PM, May 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 22:12:59-04

A statue of Louisiana native and Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard stands near New Orleans City Park.

The City of New Orleans on Tuesday began removing one of two remaining Confederate monuments scheduled to come down, officials said.

The statue of Confederate Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, near City Park, honors the military leader who died in New Orleans in 1893. It is the third monument scheduled to come down.

Earlier Tuesday, New Orleans Police put up barricades near the monument, one of two remaining Confederate monuments set for removal, CNN affiliate WGNO reported.

“Today we take another step in defining our city not by our past but by our bright future,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement. “While we must honor our history, we will not allow the Confederacy to be put on a pedestal in the heart of New Orleans.”

Two monuments have been dismantled since the New Orleans City Council in 2015 voted to remove four Confederate landmarks. Recent court decisions paved the way for the city to relocate the monuments after years of heated public debate and legal fights.

A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is the other monument scheduled to be removed and relocated.

In 2015, the words “Black Lives Matter” were spray-painted on both sides of the monument’s column, CNN affiliate WDAM-TV reported.

Last week, the city removed a 6-foot statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from its pedestal. The Davis statue stood atop a roughly 12-foot column and depicted the Confederate president with his right arm outstretched, towering over the street also named after him.

Davis lived in New Orleans after the Civil War and died there in 1889. The statue was dedicated in 1911. In 2004, the words “slave owner” were painted on the monument’s base.

Last month, the city dismantled the first of the four monuments: an obelisk commemorating the Battle of Liberty Place. The monument marked a deadly fight between members of the Crescent City White League, a group opposed to the city’s biracial police force, and state militia after the Civil War.

Amid security threats, contractors wearing masks and tactical vests worked in the dark of night to remove that monument.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the statues will be put in storage while the city looks for a suitable place to display them, such as a museum. The city secured private funding to remove the monuments, the mayor’s office has said.

The effort to remove the New Orleans monuments is part of larger controversy surrounding Confederate symbols in cities nationwide. Some argue the monuments symbolize racial injustice and slavery. Supporters say the monuments are part of history and heritage. The issue rose to prominence after the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a self-described white supremacist.