Monument Watch: City details timeline for Lee removal

Monument Watch: A surge of activity at Lee Circle
Protesters, supporters, spectators surround Lee monument (FOX 8 Photo)
Protesters, supporters, spectators surround Lee monument (FOX 8 Photo)
Source: Susan Guidry/Twitter
Source: Susan Guidry/Twitter

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The city sent a press release late Thursday night detailing the timeline for the Lee monument removal along with information about where the four Confederate-era statues are going and what will be installed in their place. Read the entire city statement here.

The city will begin closing streets around Lee Circle at 4 a.m., and the removal will take place Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu is set to make a special address on the removal of the monuments Friday at 3 p.m. at Gallier Hall.

In the meantime, no parking signs and barricades have been placed around Lee Circle. Late Friday afternoon, the RTA announced that the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line is on detour from Erato Street to the Downtown loop until further notice. Buses will replace streetcars in the area and RTA crews have removed portions of the overhead streetcar lines around Lee Circle.

Throughout the monument removal process, which began in late April, there have been questions about how much it's costing and who's paying for it. The mayor's office insists no public money is being used to remove the monuments. Instead we're told that the city has raised over $600,000 from private donors, and the non-profit public charity The Foundation of Louisiana is the fiduciary for those private funds.

However, Councilmember-at-Large Stacy Head said that has come under question. She released the following statement Thursday:

"The Council and public were provided assurances that the removals would be handled by an experienced company and at no cost to the city.  Based on media reports, it appears that these may have been false.  I have asked the administration about the cost through the mayor's intergovernmental department."

FOX 8 requested a list of the private donors and how much they donated, but the city says due to safety concerns and privacy rights, they will remain anonymous.

We spoke with a media attorney to find out if those records should be released under the public records law.

"I certainly feel for the people who are donating this money," said attorney Scott Sternberg. "They probably thought when they were donating to a non-profit that their name would never get out because you can request anonymity, but again, if this non-profit is doing the government's work, there are plenty of cases in Louisiana case law and there is a very good argument that that information should be public, because the public should be able to know who is paying for this governmental function to occur."

We also reached out to the Foundation for Louisiana. Foundation President Flozell Daniels Jr. released the following statement:

"Given the high level of threats both physical and economic issued to potential, current and past contractors, pro-removal supporters, city staff and politicians we see not naming the donors as being an issue of public good and safety."

The Foundation of Louisiana did tell us they are providing funds to the contractors involved in the monument removal, and they do not provide any funds to the city. We're told the foundation pays invoices as they are received.

The monument to General Robert E. Lee is the final statue named by the City Council as a public nuisance.

The other three are the Liberty Place monument, which came down last month; the Jefferson Davis statue, removed earlier this month; and P.G.T. Beauregard, which crews took away on Tuesday.

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