Letter from city attorney shows ownership dispute over PGT Beauregard monument continues

May 15, 2017 | Updated: 4:18 p.m., May 15, 2017

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

NEW ORLEANS — A letter written by the city attorney to the group that manages City Park reveals there’s still some question as to whether the city owns the PGT Beauregard statue and will proceed with its removal.

Tulane professor Richard Marksbury, a member of the Monumental Task Committee that’s fighting to keep the Confederate monuments in place, sent a copy of a letter written by City Attorney Rebecca Dietz to a member of the City Park Improvement Association, the independent agency that manages City Park.

In the letter, Dietz said the City Park Improvement Association has asserted that it has certain legal rights to the property on which the monument sits.

The Monumental Task Committee filed a lawsuit last week challenging the city’s plan to remove PGT Beauregard, claiming that the statue and the property on which it sits belongs to City Park, not the city.

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A judge ruled in favor of the city and said the city can proceed with removing PGT Beauregard, one of four Confederate monuments slated to come down. Liberty Place and Jefferson Davis have already been removed.

Dietz said in the letter that the city does not agree with the association’s claims that it owns the property, but the city does recognize the group’s authority to own and maintain park property.

Dietz also said in the letter that the city will engage in 30 days of negotiations with the City Park management organization, and “in the event that the claims are not successfully resolved … then either party shall have the right to initiate mediation to resolve said claims.”

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The city said it maintains its position that the city is the owner of the statue and the property, but has agreed to discuss the issue with the City Park Improvement Association over the next 30 days.

The city said the City Park Improvement Association acknowledges that the city can proceed with the monument’s removal.