NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A masked crew began the process of removing the P.G.T. Beauregard statue as a mostly peaceful crowd looked on, some waving Confederate flags.
The work took crews about seven hours to get the statue off of its pedestal. Beauregard was strapped up several times before crews felt comfortable moving it to the truck.
The City of New Orleans released a lengthy statement Tuesday night, saying that the process was underway. The statement included a traffic advisory as well as a brief summary on the four monuments declared "public nuisances" by the City Council. After Beauregard, the last monument to be removed is the Robert E. Lee monument at Lee Circle. There was no word on a timeline.
Earlier, officers on foot moved several protesters from the immediate area around the statue as officers on horseback patrolled. A K-9 unit could also be seen walking around the monument. The entrance to City Park on Lelong Drive was blocked, and several NOPD units were staged at the Shell gas station. Work lights aimed at the statue were blazing.
A brief scuffle broke out between two men before the protesters were dispersed. One of them was taken away by EMS with what appeared to be a minor injury while the other man was placed in a police cruiser.
Several people were arrested around 1:45 a.m. on Wednesday after burning a flag on Esplanade near the monument. Police officers mounted on horses were called in to help protect the area.
Crews wrapped the statue in several pieces of bubble wrap and then strapped it to a crane, only to have to unstrap it and try again. Six hours after work started on removing the monument, P.G.T. Beauregard was still in place. It would come down at 3:15 a.m.
"The third confederate statue is now down. Another step forward for our city," Mayor Mitch Landrieu tweeted shortly after the statue was removed.
Tuesday afternoon, members of the Monumental Task Committee said that the group had no standing to file in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to seek preservation of the P.G.T. Beauregard monument as planned - only the City Park Improvement Association could do that because City Park owns the land.
That revelation came at a news conference held near the park's entrance where the statue stands. The group is now lobbying lawmakers to pass HB 71, which seeks to preserve all military monuments. The Senate will hear the bill next.
On Monday, Members of Louisiana's Legislative Black Caucus said their colleagues showed a lack of leadership by advancing HB 71.
"This is not about patriotism. I support our veterans, I support people who fought for the United States, but what I don't support is white supremacy," said Rep. C. Denise Marcelle (D-Baton Rouge).
Every African-American member of the house left the floor in protest Monday after the bill passed by a vote of 65-to-31.
"My bill in its current posture is a perfect exercise of democracy. Allows people to have their input in the decision to remove the monuments from the public spaces in which they live," said Rep. Thomas Carmody (R-Shreveport).
City Park officials released the following statement Tuesday evening:
"The issues regarding the Beauregard Monument and its location are complicated. New Orleans City Park Improvement Association is not aware of any definitive evidence that the NOCPIA owns the Gen. P.G. T. Beauregard Monument. Following the passage of an ordinance approved by the City Council and signed by Mayor Landrieu in December of 2015, a decision was made by the City to remove the century old monument from its current location.
Mayor Landrieu has clearly indicated that the removal of the monument is imminent, and we hope it will be done safely and that all parties, while exercising their first amendment rights, respect the laws of our city and state.
The City has acknowledged NOCPIA's authority to own, manage, and maintain New Orleans City Park property. The NOCPIA has asserted its rights on this matter, including the property upon which the monument sits, and the dialogue regarding those rights with the City is ongoing."