New Orleans set to remove Robert E. Lee statue

Final Confederate statue coming down in New Orleans

The effort to remove the New Orleans monuments is part of a larger controversy surrounding Confederate symbols in cities nationwide.

Since May 11, crews have removed monuments to Jefferson Davis, president of the pro-slavery Confederacy and P.G.T. Beauregard, a Confederate general.

Unlike the earlier statues, city officials were taking Lee's statue down in daylight.

(AP Photo/Scott Threlkeld). New Orleans police keep watch over pro-monument protesters and anti-monument protesters Tuesday, May 16, 2017, as the Confederate general P.G.T. Beauregard is prepared for removal from the entrance to City Park in New Orlean.

The physical process of taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee faced several obstacles Friday, not unlike the process through the legal system and political system that Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the city council faced after passing an ordinance to remove four Confederate-era monuments almost 18 months ago.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will speak Friday afternoon about the city's efforts to remove the four Confederate monuments, the Times-Picayune reported.

The statues were erected decades after the Civil War to celebrate the "lost cause of the Confederacy", a movement recognized across the South as promoting white supremacy, according to a press release from the mayor's office.

Landrieu called for the monuments' removal in the lingering emotional aftermath of the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a SC church.

The only flashpoint was when a pro-removal protester snatched a Confederate battle flag. The removal comes after a long and divisive battle over whether old South emblems represent racism or an honorable heritage.

NOLA.com is covering the takedown of Gen. Robert E. Lee's statue throughout the day.

In 2015, New Orleans made a decision to take down the four monuments, and a US appeals court ruled in March that it had the right to proceed. One camp denounces the monuments as tributes to white supremacists.

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After the unveiling, a crowd of Confederate veterans circled the statue two or three times as strains of "America" and "Dixie" filled the air. It shows the actual statue of Lee to be 16 feet, 6 inches tall, standing on an 8-foot, 4-inch base.

Landrieu drew blistering criticism from monument supporters and even some political allies.

At the exact moment that the statue was unveiled, a 100-gun salute was sacked, and "a mighty shout went up from the soldiers of the Confederacy", the Daily Picayune reported.

This sparked Confederacy supporters to gather to protest the statue's takedown until Mayor Mitch Landrieu confirmed it would happen during the workday Friday.

The city has received offers from public and private institutions to take individual monuments, so it will solicit proposals on where they will go through an "open and transparent selection".

But, Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, R-Louisiana, claims he already has a verbal agreement with Landrieu to take the statues.

Certain conditions apply, however; the statues can not be displayed outdoors on public property in New Orleans. "They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history", Landrieu said.

According to the city, Lee's statue will be replaced by a water feature and public art, while a US flag will be placed at the site of the Davis statue.

At one point earlier in the morning, a fight almost broke out after someone snatched an American flag from a monument supporter and hid it in a vehicle.

PGT Beauregard is left out for now while the City and City Park Improvement Association work out ownership issues.

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