Appeals court says Confederate monuments can come down

The statue of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard before it was removed from its base outside City Park

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal has ruled that the controversial Confederate monuments can come down in New Orleans.

The New Orleans City Council voted in December 2015 to remove four prominent Confederate monuments from the city: the Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Circle, the P.G.T. Beauregard statue in front of City Park, the Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway and a monument honoring the Battle of Liberty Place on Iberville Street.

Opponents of removing the statues filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s decision. A district court judge ruled in favor of the city, and now an appeals court judge has made the same ruling.

The city delayed taking down the monuments because of the lawsuit, and also because the contractor hired by the city to remove them quit after receiving death threats.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued the following statement in response to the court’s decision:

“Today the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the City’s ability to control its property,” he said. “This win today will allow us to begin to turn a page on our divisive past and chart the course for a more inclusive future. Moving the location of these monuments—from prominent public places in our city where they are revered to a place where they can be remembered—changes only their geography, not our history. Symbols matter and should reflect who we are as a people. These monuments do not now, nor have they ever reflected the history, the strength, the richness, the diversity or the soul of New Orleans.

“These monuments will be preserved until an appropriate place to display them is determined.  Once removed, we will have the opportunity to join together and select new unifying symbols that truly reflect who we are today.”

Memorials surrounding Confederate Jefferson Davis were tagged. (WGNO)