Group holds vigil at Jeff Davis Memorial amid rumored removal

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NEW ORLEANS -- A group opposed to the removal of four Confederate-era monuments around the city of New Orleans held a vigil just after midnight Monday to protest the action.
 
The city passed an ordinance more than a year ago and recent court rulings have cleared the way to remove the Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Circle, the P.G.T. Beauregard statue just outside of City Park, the Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway and the monument to the Battle of Liberty Place, which is tucked behind Canal Place near the riverfront.

Early Monday crews and police showed up at the Liberty Place Monument. Mayor Mitch Landrieu confirmed to the Associated Press that the process to remove the monuments was beginning and would continue over the next few days.

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The Monumental Task Committee's vigil began at midnight at the Jefferson Davis statue in Mid-City.
 
The first to speak during the vigil was Charles Edward Lincoln, who said he was an expert in anthropology.
 
“Anthropologists understand the meaning of community and understand how symbols relate to people and how symbols bring people together and connect people with their past," he said. "Connecting people w their past is a good thing whether you like what happened in the past or not. This is a problem folks, it is akin to genocide.
 
During the meeting, one bystander posed a question about what the symbols meant.
 
“Akin to genocide is a really tough choice of words for something that really hasn’t been talked about much here, which is that for many people, these statues and the other three throughout the city are associated with slavery,” the man said.
 
However, many at the vigil disagreed.
 
“These are not the symbols of slavery you need to be worried about," said Lincoln. "If you’re really worried about getting rid of the symbols of slavery in New Orleans, please forget these statues even exist. Bulldoze me the French Quarter! Bulldoze me the Garden District!"
 
The group echoed previous comments to come to an agreement with the city that did not involve the removal of the monuments.
 
“A lot of people right now are missing out on some of the issues going on,” said pro-monument supporter Charles Marsala. “Now you have situations like this where people represent what they stood for. One of the things needed to be done is to educate the community with plaques." 
 
The Landrieu administration recently began to review one bid for the removal of the Davis, Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard statues. A fourth monument, known as the Battle of Liberty Place Monument, was not included in that bid proposal.
 
 
 
The Landrieu administration was trying to keep a tight lip on the timing of the removal.
 
"Due to the widely known intimidation, threats, and violence there remains serious safety concerns," the statement continued. "Therefore, we will not be sharing the details on removal timeline."
 
The city opened the lone bid for removal from Cuzan LLC on April 4. It has up 45 days from opening the $600,000 bid to review it and sign a contract if it believes the company can complete the work.
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