When the Louisiana Legislature's next session opens in March, Representatives will likely draft and enact a state law regarding processes for cities to remove monuments. Several other states already have such laws on the books.
The rush in New Orleans to take down four monuments weeks before state laws are written is causing many to raise red flags on the process.
In December 2014, the New Orleans City Council passed a motion to remove four monuments it felt violated its nuisance ordinance.
All four are part of one single council motion. Originally proposed in July 2015, Mayor Landrieu claimed they were nuisances and needed to be removed.
The First Red Flag was raised when, the Mayor's office presented that it had a private donor funding through a non-profit the expected $170,000.00 cost for removal of the monuments and was discussing with a private entity to display the monuments in a private museum. The ‘Foundation for Louisiana’ is a nonprofit organization that is allowing the donor's money to "pass through” them to keep the donor's name private.
The ‘Foundation for Louisiana’ lists as a core belief: "Transparency and accountability are cornerstones of integrity and institutional success."
The afternoon the council passed a motion supporting the mayor's request, four non-profits (now referred to as the "Preservationists") who had been taking care of the hundred plus year old monuments for decades, filed a #Lawsuit.
Points in the lawsuit included: addressing the approved City Council Motion as one complete issue as opposed to four separate issues. The lawsuit cited Federal Laws such as 18 USC 1369 which protects Monuments to Veterans, via Federal funding or Federal land.
As soon as the hearing started, Judge Carl Barbier stated the City, (not clear if that met the City Council or Mayor's office) had informed him it was withdrawing Liberty Monument and the hearing would focus on the other three monuments. The Council has yet to report this in a meeting.
The Second Red Flag was raised when, the Judge just did not declare the hearing moot, since the Preservationists had in fact "Won" their lawsuit at that point as the "Approved" City Council motion violates Federal Law and the Preservationist claims were supported by case law and res judicata.
If so, the City Council might have to start the process over, with new motions on each monument. The time delay could mean New Orleans will not get the monuments torn down before Louisiana State Law Protects them.
The Third Red Flag was raised when, the lawsuit questioned the process in place to evaluate all New Orleans monuments. Citizens want to defend the character and context of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and PGT Beauregard and those that funded their monuments.
Lee had written in 1856 that slavery was a great "evil;" Davis and his brother educated, trained, and financed the sale of their plantation to former slaves; Beauregard organized citizens to desegregate New Orleans schools, with an African-American poet speaking at his memorial.
Others question a monument to former New Orleans Mayor deLesseps "Chep" Morrison, who ran for governor as a segregationist. They believe the City Council should first develop a process to review monuments.
Brought out at the hearing was that four city owned monuments paid for by citizens who took decades to raise the funds are scheduled to be removed and turned over to a private museum.
The Fourth Red Flag was raised when, citizens became concerned that the city has not offered the Lee, Davis, and Beauregard monuments to the long established Civil #War Museum but to a private museum that could describe these men as being pro-slavery, could describe those that funded the erection of the monuments and cared for them as wanting to promote racism. #Government