April 24 (UPI) -- The first of four monuments honoring the Civil war's Confederate cause was removed from downtown New Orleans on Monday.
Crews wearing masks and driving in trucks with company names concealed arrived early Monday morning at downtown New Orleans' Liberty Square. By 5:35 a.m., the Liberty Monument, a memorial obelisk erected in 1891 to honor fallen members of a Civil War paramilitary group called The White League, was dismantled and hauled away.
Mayor Michael Landrieu called the monument "the most offensive of the four" erected to "revere white supremacy."
The other monuments at the site, honoring Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard, are scheduled for removal as well. The monuments' presence has been a flashpoint of contention, and protesters who regard them as glorifying the South's pro-slavery cause in the Civil War have called for their removal. About two dozen supporters of the monuments held an overnight candlelight vigil at the Davis statue.
The city council authorized the monuments' removal in 2015, calling them a public nuisance. Landrieu said Monday that $700,000 in necessary funding for the project was available to begin the removal. A federal court ruled in March that the city could take them down. The monuments will be held in storage until they can be placed in a museum or other similar facility.
Hundreds of Confederate memorials still stand across the states that seceded from the United States in 1861, and interest in the them, as artifacts of historical significance, remains high.
State government offices are closed Monday in Mississippi and Alabama for Confederate Memorial Day.FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social