Liberty Place monument removal stokes strong emotions, raises new questions

Liberty Place monument removal stokes strong emotions, raises new questions

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - R. Blakesle Gilpin, A Tulane assistant professor, said what happened Monday in New Orleans speaks to how charged our history is.

"It is totally unprecedented. I can't think of another incident like this, certainly in American history, where there's a monument taken down period, but certainly not in the middle of the night with this sort of like, drama. I mean, it was crazy," said Gilpin, who is a Tulane University assistant professor of history.

It was 1 a.m. when crews wearing masks and bulletproof vests dismantled the Liberty Place monument. It's one of four Confederate-era statues that have been declared a public nuisance.

"I can't see any public relations angle where it's like, 'Put bulletproof vests on them and masks cause that's going to make this better for anybody,' but the fact is they did it, and I think that speaks to a real concern. I mean, I think the difficulty in finding contractors to do all this work is also, I mean to me, is fascinating. I'm just interested as a bystander to say, 'Wow, like history is really charged in this place.' It means something to people on both sides," said Gilpin.

Sociologist and political analyst Dr. Silas Lee said tension over the monuments is reminiscent of another time in New Orleans history.

"You know in the past we have had issues that definitely stoke the flames of anxiety in the community. For example, in 1991 in reference to the Mardi Gras Krewes being integrated, that created some anxiety and tension. Here, you have symbols of the past in a very tenuous time in reference to people feeling a high level of social, economic, and survival anxiety," said Lee.

Now, all eyes are on the PGT Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee monuments. The city said they will come down, too.

For security reasons and to protect the company doing the work, Mayor Mitch Landrieu won't say when the other statues will be taken down. But Landrieu said the city has secured enough private funding to pay for it.

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