NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - There is new information involving the cost to remove four of the city's Confederate-era monuments, and we had questions for the city about why two of the statues are now sitting in a city lot and not in a warehouse like the mayor's office had asserted.
The mayor's position has been clear all along as documented in a city news release from March 6. In it, the city says "Once removed, the monuments will be stored in a city owned warehouse until further plans can be developed for a park or museum site where the monuments can be put in a fuller context."
"I am shocked because it seems like a blunderous move that the city wouldn't have done knowing that it's going to possibly cause them problems," said Richard Marksbury with the Monumental Task Committee, which opposed taking the monuments down.
Marksbury says the group is now considering filing a contempt of court charge against the city and the mayor because he says they failed to do what they said they would to protect the statues.
"I imagine Judge Barbier would probably not be pleased to know that they're out in the open like that subject to damage," said Marksbury.
We asked the city why the monuments were at the lot. A spokesperson told us, "The PGT Beauregard statue and Jefferson Davis base are being temporarily staged at a securely gated city facility until they can be moved to a long-term location."
We also wanted to know how much public money has been spent to remove the monuments. We're told the city has raised over $600,000 from private donors, and The Foundation for Louisiana is the fiduciary for those private funds. The city insists that no public money was used, and they say no major equipment was purchased for the work.
But when we asked how much it's costing the city in manpower, the mayor's office didn't give us a number. Instead they said, "To ensure the safety of residents, contractors, and the community at large during the monument removal process, City personnel took place in public safety and homeland security operations. Providing public safety for things like peaceful public demonstrations and critical incidents is standard for City government, and the City provides this public safety and logistical support. No major equipment was purchased for this work."
We also asked for a list of all the private donors and how much they donated to remove the monuments. But the city says due to safety concerns and privacy rights, they will remain anonymous.