Supporters of Confederate-era monuments slated for removal in New Orleans launched a new court fight Monday to save one of them.
A statue of Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard on horseback is at the main entrance to New Orleans City Park. Monument supporters say their research shows the statue is not owned by the city, but by the City Park Improvement Association. That agency is part of the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, overseen by Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser.
Monument supporter Richard Marksbury said Monday that he's filed a lawsuit in state court to prevent the statue's removal. In a related development, Nungesser released a letter to the president of the improvement association, Steven Pettus, saying Pettus should object to the removal of the statue.
At Mayor Mitch Landrieu's behest, the City Council voted in 2015 to take down four monuments, an action prompted by the slaying of black parishioners by an avowed racist at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, earlier that year. The shooter had posed online with the Confederate battle flag.
One of the statues, the Liberty Place monument, which was removed late last month, honored a rebellion by whites who battled a biracial Reconstruction-era government in New Orleans. Statues of Beauregard, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis are to be removed soon.
Supporters and opponents have taken part in sometimes tense demonstrations at the monument sites in anticipation of the city taking them down, and their removal was delayed by a long legal battle in federal court. Ultimately, the city won the right to remove the monuments, but Marksbury said more research on the ownership of the Beauregard statue led to Monday's lawsuit.
The judge in that suit refused Monday to issue an immediate, temporary order blocking removal of the Beauregard statue. Judge Kern Reese scheduled a Wednesday morning hearing in the case.
City Park officials issued a statement Monday saying they were reviewing the issues in the lawsuit. Landrieu's office issued a statement saying the issues have already been litigated and that monument supporters were "continuing to fight a lost cause."
City officials have refused to give advance public notice of the removal work because of threats of violence against contractors and workers involved in the effort. Because of the threats, the Liberty Place monument was removed in the dead of night by workers wearing masks and body armor.