New Orleans Mayor takes stand against controversial Confederate statues

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu made a big announcement Wednesday morning, saying he wants to take down the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Lee Circle.

Standing tall in our city's skyline is the General Robert E. Lee Monument in Lee Circle.

"It's one of the City's longest standing monuments, and it's been there since 1884,"  Ashley Merlin, Author of "Statuesque New Orleans", said.

The General Lee Monument certainly has its place in history, but Mayor Landrieu says it's a piece of history that doesn't fit in with New Orleans' present or future.

"Even though Robert E. Lee reflects a part of our history, he doesn't reflect what the city is or who the city wants to be," Mayor Landrieu said.

As the city prepares for it 300th birthday, they've been having open discussions about removing and renaming symbols, statues, and streets that no longer belong.

"To me they should reflect unity, diversity and our culture, things that bring us together, not separate us," Mayor Landrieu said.

The Urban League of Greater New Orleans applauds the Mayor's efforts.

"This conversation has been a long time coming. This is something the city has grappled with throughout it's history," Erica McConduit-Diggs, President/CEO of Urban League of Greater New Orleans, said.

"I would say General Lee has been a significant part of our nation's dark past," she said.

The Monumental Task Committee which advocates for statues and monuments in our city and works on getting them restored said in a statement:

"We've never supported moving or altering monuments, but have encouraged neighborhoods to embrace the treasures located in their midst, and learn the unique stories each monument tells."

But if that story doesn't help us heal racially, then the city wants nothing to do with it.

"Race is something we must deal with.  Not go over it.  Not go under it.  We must get through it," Mayor Landrieu said.

The Mayor said all Confederate names and symbols are in play for possible changes.  That would include the PGT Beauregard statue in front of City Park, The Jefferson Davis Monument, and the Liberty Monument.

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