Group promising to tear down Andrew Jackson statue Saturday

Group promising to tear down iconic Andrew Jackson statue Saturday

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - With fewer than a dozen people at Thursday's gathering, Take 'Em Down Nola leader Malcolm Suber said hundreds will join his effort on Saturday to tear down the iconic Andrew Jackson statue in Jackson Square.

"We're not vandalizing. We're removing an eyesore," Suber said.

Ahead of the protest, Suber also sent a message to the New Orleans Police Department.

"We understand that the city and the police department are going to be out there to try and prevent us, but we are asking him to step aside and let us do a civic duty as we see it," Suber said.

The move is a reaction to what the group says is the City of New Orleans dragging its feet on the removal of four Confederate-era monuments. The legal battle over the future of the Robert E. Lee, PGT Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and Liberty monuments goes to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals next week.

The group says because Jackson was a slave owner and responsible for the devastating Trail of Tears for the Native American community, his monument should also come down.

But many people disagree and plan to oppose the protest.

"I think it's a travesty of justice that they are even allowed to threaten this. This is an act of violence against the state, against government property," Save Our Circle member Richard Hicks said.

Save Our Circle opposes removing any monuments, and Hicks is concerned the demonstration could morph into a bigger problem with both sides facing off.

"I don't want it to be, and we wouldn't even be there if there wasn't this threat of violence," Hicks said. "If they were simply going out in a peaceful protest, which is allowed in our country, and they were going to protest whatever it is their view or side of it, that's one thing. But when you threaten the destruction of property that belongs to all of us, then it takes a different tone."

It's unclear how Take 'Em Down Nola plans to remove the large statue in the French Quarter. Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he is not in favor of the removal of the Jackson statue, but Landrieu has led the charge to remove the four Confederate-era monuments.

The mayor released a statement saying: "At this time, there are no plans to prevent any peaceful demonstrations. As a reminder, vandalism of any public property is strictly prohibited."

NOPD officials said they will be monitoring the situation Saturday.

Copyright 2016 WVUE. All rights reserved.