NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Fire Department is taking heat after photographs surfaced online showing NOFD personnel helping construction crews remove Liberty Place monument early Monday morning.
Crews removed the first of four Confederate monuments slated to come down about 2 a.m. Monday. Workers wore masks to protect their identities, and there was a heavy police presence.
The city’s controversial decision to remove the monuments has sparked several death threats to the companies that placed bids to remove the statues. That’s why the removal of Liberty Place was done in secret, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.
New Orleans Fire Department union president Nick Felton released a statement Tuesday evening, saying any NOFD employee’s involvement in supporting the taking down of monuments does not represent the department as a whole.
Felton addressed the media Wednesday morning. He said there were a handful of firefighters present, but they had no business being there.
The statement also mentions any potential personal involvement by unnamed, but easily recognizable leadership of the NOFD, would be an irresponsible breach of trust with their membership.
The city responded Wednesday afternoon and said emergency response agencies – like the fire department – are essential when the city is involved in any activity that could involve security risks.
“The emergency response agencies and essential city personnel, who are always engaged in the logistics and planning of major emergencies and events, were involved in the process to ensure a safe removal of the Battle of Liberty Place statue,” said Tyronne Walker, director of communications for the city of New Orleans. “The city’s public safety agencies took part in this lawful operation, and we commend them for safely executing the plan while protecting the lives of all involved.”
The city called threats that have been called in to the fire stations “reprehensible.”
“This is precisely what made the Liberty Place statue so egregious,” Walker said.
As for the removal of the remaining three statues, city leaders are not releasing any details, citing safety concerns.
See Landrieu’s comments on the monument removal below: