Confederate Jefferson Davis Statue Removed

Workers wearing masks and helmets began taking down the statue amid a heavy police presence. One man saluted the statue, while other members chanted "President Davis". Two more will be taken down in the next few weeks.

But that changed overnight, as the statue was removed from its longtime perch - along Jefferson Davis Parkway, no less - following days of tension and protests.

We talked to executive director Dr. Tom Payne about that, and there appears to be some confusion coming out of the New Orleans Mayor's Office.

Masked crews, using a massive crane and trucks, removed a controversial statue of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

"These monuments have stood not as historic or educational markers of our legacy of slavery and segregation, but in celebration of it", Mayor Landrieu said today in a released statement.

The removal process has been stalled in courts, though a last-ditch effort to block the removal of the Beauregard monument was rejected Wednesday by a Louisiana judge, the AP reported. The lawsuit, filed by Richard Marksbury in Orleans Parish Civil District Court, says the city can not legally take down the statue of because it does not own the memorial or the land it's on.

A New Orleans preservationist on Monday sued to stop the city from removing a statue of a Confederate States Army General P.G.T. Beauregard. Other cities' plans to remove monuments, including those in Memphis, Tenn. and Birmingham, Ala. have been thwarted by state officials.

A small group of monument supporters had gathered in front of the statue since April 23, when the New Orleans Monument Task Committee held a candlelight vigil to show support. May 11, the city removed the statue of Jefferson Davis from its pedestal overlooking Canal Street in Mid-City. As the sculpture was strapped to a crane hook and lowered onto a trailer this morning, advocates of the removal cheered and sang "Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye", while protesters waved large Confederate flags and booed. However, that doesn't mean we must valorize the ugliest chapters, as we do when we put the Confederacy on a pedestal - literally - in our most prominent public places.

Unrest in the city did not come until after Landrieu demanded they be removed, however.

The New Orleans monuments slated for removal were all erected between 1884 and 1915, a period when lynchings spiked and some of the most vicious Jim Crow laws were enacted.

WDSU reporter Jennifer Crockett said a trial date has not been set to determine ownership, but a trial would not matter if the city took the monument down before.

It was the first of four scheduled relocations of Confederate memorials in New Orleans after years of heated public debate and legal battles.

"If we're not going to commit to the dialogue, [the removal of these statues] is not going to make a difference". Unveiled in 1884, the monument is on a mound at a traffic circle - Lee Circle - that splits historic St. Charles line and the rail line on which 1920s-era streetcars rumble by.

Just like the decision to publicly recognize the tragic significance of that stone, removing New Orleans's Confederate monuments from places of prominence is an acknowledgment that it is time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history.

This post has been updated.