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Protests support, oppose New Orleans' plans to remove Confederate monuments

By Allen Cone
Protests support, oppose New Orleans' plans to remove Confederate monuments
A monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is among three Confederate monuments the city plans to remove. The plans drew supporters and critics of the plan into the city's downtown area Sunday for dueling demonstrations. Photo by Paulscrawl/Wikimedia Commons

May 7 (UPI) -- Groups supporting and opposing New Orleans' plans to remove three Confederate monuments gathered Sunday to make their voices heard.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu previously announced to remove the statute of Jefferson Davis, then two of his generals, Gen. Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard, within the next month, though exact dates have not been announced.

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On Sunday afternoon, critics of the statues marched in a parade "to bury white supremacy." The demonstrators finished at Lee Circle, where Lee's statute appears. White supremacist and neo-Confederate groups have been encouraging their followers online to turn out as well.

One protesters held up a sign: "I'm just here for the violence."

Last week, vandals slathered the statue of Beauregard with graffiti. Protesters also have been showing up from different parts of the United States to express solidarity.

The Battle of Liberty Place pillar was removed on April 24. The City Council backed Landriue to rid New Orleans of what they say are symbols of racism.

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On Saturday night, the New Orleans Police Department issued an advisory warning that a "higher than normal law enforcement presence" would be evident around the Davis and Lee statues.

Groups protesting Sunday would be physically separated from one another with divided protest areas at the Lee Circle, Congo Square -- where the Beauregard statue is located -- and the Jefferson Davis monument, Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said.

The NOPD also will enforce a ban on weapons at demonstrations, and a general ban on masks during the afternoon march.

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"We certainly respect everyone's right to assemble and to protest peacefully," Harrison said at the news conference. "However, we will not tolerate violence, and we will not tolerate threats."

Aaron Miller, director of New Orleans' Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said authorities had received "serious and credible threats of violence" in connection with the monuments.

"As a result, the city continues to treat these events as a homeland security operation," Miller said. "We're working with state and federal law enforcement authorities, and we will take all precautions necessary to protect all individuals."

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The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, known as Jazz Fest wrapped up Sunday at the Fair Grounds Race Course.

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