By Danny Monteverde; WWL-TV New Orleans:
NEW ORLEANS — The 16-foot-tall bronze statue of Robert E. Lee in New Orleans was removed Friday from its perch high above St. Charles Avenue where the Confederate general had stood watch for 133 years.
The removal of the last, and perhaps most iconic of the city’s four Confederate-era monuments drew dozens of people to Lee Circle, where it is located, late Thursday and early Friday.
By mid-morning, activity began at the site as cranes and backhoes were used.
The statue was lifted from its pedestal early Friday evening. The largely anti-monument crowd burst into cheers and song.
“I cannot believe that it’s down,” said a choked up Rev. Marie Galatas, a civil rights leader who was instrumental in the movement to remove the monuments. “This is the one I was focused on … there had been monumental obstacles against me from ’73 until now, but they are down now.”
Lee Circle has been a focal point for citizens of the city for more than 130 years, with many not paying attention to the historic significance or controversy of the monument to the general that led the Confederate Army against Union troops.
That history has become a focus for both pro and anti-monument groups.
A crowd of perhaps 200 people were gathered at the circle Thursday night. There were several Confederate battle flags, some American flags and a small band of drummers who led the anti-monument people with a chant of “Take ‘Em Down.”
“We want him to stay here,” said Robert Bonner, a supporter of the Lee statue. “We know he’s going to come down, but that’s not going to stop us. We want a voice.”
“I wanted this to be seen with their own eyes,” said DeMirah Howard, who supports the monuments being removed. “It’s not good for our children to view it (the memorial).”
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Jefferson Davis Monument Comes Down After 106 Years
NEW ORLEANS – A large police presence as well as large cranes and heavy equipment were all part of the removal of the monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis early Thursday, May 11.
Workers who showed up to work on the removal were again shrouded with masks and dark clothing as the city has said there have been threats made against those participating in the removal.
The monument to Jefferson Davis was erected in 1911 and had stood in its location at the corner of Jefferson Davis Parkway and Canal Street for 106 years.
Crews showed up shortly after 3 a.m. and the actual removal of the statue was done shortly after 5 a.m. as a sling and bubble wrap were put around the statue before it was hoisted in the air and laid down on the bed of a truck.
“This morning we continue our march to reconciliation by removing the Jefferson Davis Confederate statue from its pedestal of reverence,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a statement.
Dozens of vocal opponents and proponents of Confederate-era monuments gathered shortly after midnight as the second of the four Confederate-era monuments was being prepared to be removed from its location.
The two factions were separated behind barricades, just feet apart from each other. Shouts, insults and profanity laced the verbal exchanges.
The Jefferson Davis Memorial was removed about two and a half weeks after the monument to the Battle of Liberty Place was taken down. Still slated for removal, at a time to be determined, are the statue of Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle and the statue of P.G.T. Beauregard at the entrance to City Park. There is no timetable for their removal, though Landrieu has said repeatedly that it would happen “sooner rather than later.”
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