Mayor: With no legal roadblocks left, monuments to come down 'sooner rather than later'

Mayor: With no legal roadblocks left, monuments to come down 'sooner rather than later'

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Supporters of one of the Confederate-era monuments were dealt a second setback in three days, but the group said the fight is not over yet.

An Orleans Parish Civil Court judge Wednesday denied a request for an injunction which would have blocked the city's removal of the P.G.T. Beauregard statue on the edge of New Orleans City Park.

Attorneys for the city left civil court smiling after Judge Kern Reese denied a request by pro-monument supporters to block its removal.

"We can't get you a comment, we will get you a statement," attorney Erin Burns said.

During 90 minutes of arguments, attorneys trying to save the statue of the Civil War general said it resided on private property.

Attorney Franklin Jones said that the owners of that property gave the city use of the land, or usufruct, saying "a usufructary doesn't give the right to seize an asset and take it to a warehouse and put it in mothballs.'

Pro-monument supporters also suggested that a move could damage the statue.

"If they move the statue and you don't get the injunction, you've got Beauregard with his head off," said Richard Marksbury of the Monumental Task Committee.

But the city countered that the statue is not in City Park, it's in the roadbed.

"Streets are public things, when it gets vandalized it's the city that's expected to remove that," city attorney Adam Swensek said.

And with that, Reese denied the request for an injunction blocking removal, saying numerous courts have ruled the statue is on city property and he said the argument has gone on an "inordinate amount of time."

"I'm disappointed but we will talk to our people about going to 4th Circuit Court of Appeals because the key to this is to get it to the Louisiana Supreme Court so we can go back and look at original documents," Marksbury said.

For his part, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the litigation has made it difficult to remove statues that were designated for removal a year and a half ago.

"It's been difficult for us to go move because of the lawsuits that have been pending," Landrieu said.

But now that the judge has issued his ruling, the mayor says removal could come quickly.

"We're going to do this in a manner that's safe and secure, and sooner rather than later," he said.

Monument supporters are now talking to their attorneys to see if they will file an appeal. So, for now there are no legal roadblocks to removing the statue.

City spokeswoman Erin Burns said in a statement, "We are pleased with the court's thoughtful decision confirming the city's right to remove the P.G.T. Beauregard statue, which has already been confirmed in both state and federal courts."