The New Orleans City Council has voted to remove four Confederate monuments displayed across the city. The council members voted to take down the statues on Dec. 17 following Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s calls to “correct these historical wrongs.”
Following the June 17 massacre of nine African-Americans by white supremacist Dylann Roof in the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Landrieu called for the removal of four prominent New Orleans statues that he says should be in a museum and not in the public square, CNN reports.
The statues were all mounted between 1884 and 1915. Three of them depict prominent leaders of the Confederacy — General P.G.T. Beauregard, Confederate president Jefferson Davis and Gen. Robert E. Lee, whose monument currently towers over the popular Lee Circle. The fourth statue is a shrine to the Battle of Liberty Palace, a rebellion of Confederate veterans against the New Orleans police during 1874, The Times-Picayune reports.
“The time surely comes when (justice) must and will be heard,” Landrieu said before the City Council’s vote, according to The Time-Picayune. “Members of the council, that day is today. The Confederacy, you see, was on the wrong side of history and humanity. We, the people of New Orleans, have the power and we have the right to correct these historical wrongs.”
City Council President Jason Williams praised the vote as a step in the right direction of healing racial wounds in New Orleans, a way of cutting the “umbilical cord” the city shares with the Confederate legacy, according to NBC News.
“If anybody wins here, it will be the South, because it is finally rising,” Williams added.
The measure passed 6-1.
Councilwoman Stacy Head was the only dissenting vote; she said that removing the monuments would not create real social change and would instead rewrite history. She proposed a compromise of allowing the statues of Lee and Beauregard to remain where they are but adding plaques to provide a historical context, according to The Times-Picayune. That idea was shot down.
Mere hours after the City Council voted to remove the monuments, a federal lawsuit was filed by three historical preservation societies and the New Orleans’ Sons of Confederate Veterans group, CNN reports.
The lawsuit alleges that all four monuments are protected by the National Registrar of Historic Places guidelines.