Ruling: NOLA can remove Confederate monuments

A federal appeals Monday court backed an earlier ruling clearing the way for the city to remove monuments celebrating its racist past.

A monument to Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard stands at the entrance to City Park in New Orleans.

The city of New Orleans has been given the go-ahead by a federal appeals court panel to move four monuments — three honoring Confederate figures and the fourth a Jim Crow era obelisk celebrating a white supremacist uprising, according to multiple media accounts. The ruling handed down Monday by the three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals marks a significant victory in the city’s long-running and contentious process of getting its Confederate past out of prominent places. The city wants to place the monuments to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gens. Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard in a warehouse until it can determine a more context-sensitive location for the statues.

The city’s Monumental Task Committee and the Louisiana Landmarks Society filed suit to prevent removal of the monuments shortly after the City Council voted to remove them more than a year ago. That lawsuit is still being litigated; the 5th Circuit’s ruling backs an earlier ruling by a federal judge who ruled the city could move the monuments before their final fate is decided because the plaintiffs in the case (the monument committee and landmark society) were unlikely to prevail.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu told local media the city would immediately issue a request for proposals from contractors seeking the job. Last year a contractor who won the bid to remove the monuments backed out after receiving death threats.

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Lafayette has its own monument to the Confederacy: the statue of Gen. Alfred Mouton at the Lee Avenue/Jefferson Street intersection Downtown. A group of local residents, Move the Mindset, has set as one of its goals moving the general to a more appropriate location. The group was formed after a contentious City-Parish Council meeting at which proponents and opponents of moving the Mouton monument spoke.

Move the Mindset was profiled in The IND's "Influencers of the Year" story last December. (It's the last profile in the story.)

Read more about the issue from a local perspective in The IND's February 2016 cover story, "A Monumental Question."