NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The head of the New Orleans Firefighters Union confirmed Wednesday that a handful of firefighters were used to take down the Liberty Monument, and that has monument supporters crying foul over an earlier commitment not to use public money.
It happened at 1 a.m. Monday morning, with many participants' faces covered.
"We should not be in riot gear or doing police work, and we are concerned that is going on," said union chief Nick Felton.
Sources have been saying all week that several people involved in taking down the monument were firefighters, and Felton confirmed that.
"To our knowledge a handful, maybe five or six, I'm not sure," said Felton.
"I'm not surprised that [Landrieu] violated his promise to the council not to use public funds," said monument supporter George Peterson.
Felton believes using firefighters to tear down monuments is potentially dangerous. He met with city officials Wednesday in an effort to have the practice stopped.
"I'm concerned about the safety of firefighters. We are here to put out fires, provide medical assistance. That's what we do. Riot gear is not what we do," said Felton.
City spokesman Tyronne Walker admitted to the use of public employees in a statement, saying:
"The emergency response agencies and essential city personnel, who are always engaged in the logistics and planning of major emergencies and events, were involved in the process to ensure a safe removal of the Battle of Liberty Place statue. The city's public safety agencies took part in this lawful operation, and we commend them for safely executing the plan while protecting the lives of all involved."
But the fire union chief is not on board.
"We don't believe we need to be in the hot zone, wearing bulletproof vests and helmets," said Felton.
As they await the city's next move on the three remaining Confederate monuments, supporters are appealing to the lieutenant governor to save them.
"Billy Nungesser is state historic authority. He can protect and preserve the monuments," said Peterson.
Nungesser reached out to President Trump to preserve the monuments, but so far has not heard back. He issued a statement saying the courts and the legislature are the only options for those who want to preserve them.
The city has not announced a timetable for the removal of the three remaining monument that have been declared "public nuisances."