On Dec 19, 2015 New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu appeared before the City Council to encourage them to approve his plan to remove four monuments he claimed were a nuisance with $170,000.00 of funds pledged from an anonymous donor.
Landrieu suggested the monuments be stored in a warehouse until an appropriate place could be found. He did not indicate that there was any park or museum available, nor funds available to bring the monuments out of storage.
The Council did not allow corresponding time to an opposing representative, nor did they ask the City Attorney if the Mayor's request violated any Federal Laws.
Council Member Stacy Head, the lone vote opposing the plan, made three suggestions for amendments which failed for lack of a second. First was to add interpretative plaques to the monuments, second was to leave two standing, and third was to put the matter to a city-wide vote.
Recent surveys showed that approximately 80% prefer to keep the monuments standing.
Council Member Head asked the Mayor if he had additional Monuments he planned to suggest the council remove, to which the Mayor responded he did not know where the process was going to end. Indications are the process could involve changing street names and the names of schools.
Within hours of the 6-1 vote, four non-profits committed to preserving Louisiana Landmarks and Monuments filed a lawsuit.
A group called "Take 'em Down NOLA" has begun advocating for removal of Andrew Jackson Monument in the French Quarter Historic District and several others in New Orleans 250 piece collection.
Future monuments suggested for removal include the National Park named after the pirate Jean Lafitte. In January 2015, New Orleans celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans won by Jackson and Lafitte at Lafitte National Park.
The New Orleans Vieux Carré Commission (VCC) which is assigned to protect, preserve, and maintain the distinct architectural, historic character, and zoning integrity of the Vieux Carré was only asked to evaluate the Battle of Liberty Place Monument.
The Council did not suggest the matter be tabled until the VCC evaluates a master plan for monuments.
After the Mayor's opening remarks, thirty residents (fifteen from each side) were allowed to speak for two minutes each. Opposition comments started the impact on tourism from removing monuments, as New Orleans currently has over nine million visitors annually, one-third of which indicate history as a reason to visit, and competes with other southern cities for travel dollars.
Another equated the remove of historical monuments to current destruction of monuments in the Middle East, stating there was no difference between a crane and dynamite.
A third referenced George Orwell's novel "1984" in which the #Government removes history to control citizens.
A member of the Monumental Task Force Committee suggested adding inscriptions to the monuments. In 1974 and 1993 inscriptions were added to Liberty Monument. The 1974 inscription was added during the term of Mayor Moon Landrieu.
The 1993 inscription reads: "In honor of those American on both sides who died in the Battle of Liberty Place... A conflict of the past that should teach us lessons for the future." During the 1874 Battle of Liberty Place, eleven police officers died defending an African-American Lt. Governor C.C. Antoine and a Governor who had relocated from the North.
The Battle was the result of 5,000 locals taking on 3,500 Police and Federal Troops. The locals felt the Reconstruction Laws and Property-Tax increases being passed by the Federal Government were harsh and causing bankruptcy. The rebellion in 1874 started the end of the Civil #War Reconstruction Period. #Art