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BLOG: New Orleans City Council votes 6-1 to remove Confederate monuments

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

We will be following the debate at New Orleans City Council as the public debates whether to remove four Confederate statues - Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis and a statue commemorating the Battle of Liberty Place. The newest posts are at the top of the story.

The New Orleans City Council vote 6-1 to remove monuments. Head is the only person to vote against the ordinance.

Private dollars will be used to pay for the removal of these monuments; the estimated cost is approximately $170,000.  The city will begin the legal process necessary to remove the Liberty Place monument, which is currently subject to a federal court order.  The process for removing the other three monuments could begin in days. The City will use a contractor selected through its Job Order Contract Program (J.O.C.), a publicly-procured program that has been in place since 2009 and provides the opportunity to select from several contractors to perform small and emergency projects.  Additional details will be announced as they become available.

Once removed, the monuments will be stored in a City-owned warehouse until further plans can be developed for a park or museum site where the monuments can be put in a fuller context.  

CO Jason Williams: Reconstruction and Jim Crow were the toughest times in this city, not Hurricane Katrina. "These monuments are not about the Civil War... They are about Jim Crow." People who sanctioned statues also sanctioned lynchings. Most of these monuments don't honor the people of New Orleans. It insults them. "I will be voting for decency today."

Councilmember-At-Large Stacy Head: "From all you have said today, you profess to care about other people's feelings, even if they are different than yours. You ask for mutual respect, but you don't provide it." Head says removing the statues will not create more balance. She says all we will be left with is pain and division. Head ends by saying she is late for a code enforcement meeting.

Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell: Says she is going off script and speaking from her heart. "If we want respect, we have to give it." Cantrell says that no consideration was given to the council about how this process should move forward. They weren't asked for any input. Cantrell says the monuments will come down. She hopes this will spur more conversation about black-on-black crime in New Orleans. She hopes it helps heal the community.

Councilman Jared Brossett: "Have these public monuments afflicted pain or unease? I believe our monuments need to reflect what we are and what we need to be." Brossett says the monuments do not reflect what he believes. He believes the monuments were erected to remind African-Americans of slavery. "We are supposed to set the examples for our children... We can change and we can move forward." He says he will vote to remove monuments.

Councilwoman Susan Guidry: Says she has always been amazed that there is a statue of Jefferson Davis near her home. She says these statues, wearing war-time garb, were erected following reconstruction. They are a tribute to the North, not New Orleans. "These monuments will not be destroyed, they will be stored until there is an appropriate place to put them."

Councilman James Gray: "I am happy and impressed that we have a white mayor that understands a little bit about what it means to be an African-American." Gray stresses the importance of symbols, like the American flag. He hopes that supporters and opponents of the monuments will be able to work together in the future. Gray said he believes we have created a myth about how good of a general Robert E. Lee was. "Why would we honor a man who led the charge to preserve one of the most terrible systems in this world?"

Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey: As a society, we can no longer tolerate living under these monuments' shadows. "It breaks my heart that in 2015 we still have to deal with the effects of slavery." Hopes for unanimous vote on removing monuments.

Landrieu: The City of New Orleans is ahead of many other states when it comes to removing controversial symbols. "I don't know where it's going to end (regarding monuments), but I know where it is going to begin - here, today." Landrieu said nothing prohibited other council members from raising this issue and leading the effort. He suggests putting together a commission to look at the relevance of each monument in the city. Landrieu said that his focus is on these four monuments because they represent a perversion of our history. "This is the right thing to do at the right time."

Councilmember-At-Large Stacy Head suggests letting the public vote on removing the monuments. No one seconds her motion. It dies. Head asks mayor if other monuments are up for removal.

Richard Westmoreland: South Carolina and Alabama acted without process. To say this isn’t a community process shows that you don’t what’s going on in your community. What was once acceptable, is now unacceptable.

Supporter: Psychologically damaging to have to walk by these murderers and see them glorified.

A confrontation is breaking out in the council chambers. A man is refusing to leave the lectern. He was joined by men acting as body guards in what my have been an orchestrated event.

Jean Huber: Please keep the monuments up.  Use the monuments as educational tools. Erect new monuments.

Pastor Sean Ingram:  Do the right thing. Remove these monuments from the high places in this city. Do it for our children and our children’s children.

Alfred Bostic: The one thing that can’t be put to a majority vote is conscience.  You are there for a reason, you have a job to do. Do the job you’re here to do.

Pam Russell:  Called for a public vote on the ordinance.

Malcolm Suber: Take ‘em Down NOLA coalition. Calling for street names, school names to be changed in addition to the monuments. Crushing blow to white supremacy.

No justice no peace chant breaks out.

Eustace Guillumette:  Appealing to common sense and intelligence. Robert E Lee against abolitionists and his wife was worse than he was.

Barker Story:  Real problem of disruption of historic works of art. Listening to all these stories, I have yet to hear how what you’re going to do is morally superior. Syria tears down monuments, thank God I don’t live in a country like that. But you’re going to make me a fellow traveler.

Supporter: Some see their ancestors fight in battles, others see their ancestors hanging in trees.

Jamal Weathersby:  Support for removal of all monuments. Unfortunate my generation has had to tolerate these monuments. Hard, difficult and controversial thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do.

Michael Duplantier: Who controls the present, controls the past. We cannont hit a delete button on the messy parts of our past. Process was calculated to produce only one outcome. Never looked at any other alternatives.

Antoine Barriere: As long as we continue to lie, we will end up in the wrong place.

Jean Huber: Please keep the monuments up.  Use the monuments as educational tools. Erect new monuments. 

Opponent: Billy Marshell Mayor brought on this racial divide. Remove Liberty monument. Beauregard monument is more problematic given his calls for increased civil rights for slaves.  Urge you to compromise and heal the racial division this city cannot afford.

Supporter: Symbols represent the very worst ideals of our city. Asking for unanimous support for this.

Rick McGregor: Group maintains monuments in the city. Visitors come here for the diversity. Statues do not represent new Orleans today. They represent to progress we have made. Consider plaques and new statues.

Eustace Guillumette:  Appealing to common sense and intelligence. Robert E Lee against abolitionists and his wife was worse than he was.

Barker Story:  Real problem of disruption of historic works of art. Listening to all these stories, I have yet to hear how what you’re going to do is morally superior. Syria tears down monuments, thank God I don’t live in a country like that. But you’re going to make me a fellow traveler.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu:  Made the request in July. Asked citizens to have a dialogue. Feelings run deep. We must reckon with our past. We cannot grow as a city or people without discussion. Asking monuments be moved to a proper setting. Should remember why these monuments were put up in the first place. The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. If that cause had won, it would have been the end of our experiment in democracy.  Cast an oppressive shadow over our city.  Extolling the virtues of the South he grew up in. Faith, family, country. This is a real and immediate opportunity … to move the city forward.

We are worlds apart and need to change. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Let us seize the moment … diversity is our greatest strength. These monuments do not represent who we are as a people and a city. Let’s stand together and bend the arc of history toward justice. Make straight the path that took a wrong turn into a dark wood. Take down these statues and put them in a place of proper remembrance not reverence. 

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