NEW ORLEANS - City leaders and community groups have been working for about two years to remove four monuments to the Confederacy. It's been quite a controversy. The Andrew Jackson statue was not on the list, but the Take 'Em Down NOLA group wants his statue removed, and they say they're willing to do it themselves.
"He's put up on a pedestal, the seventh president of the United States of America, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans," said Take 'Em Down NOLA organizer Malcolm Suber. "But there's a bigger story, and the bigger story is that he was a slave holder, and he was the architect of the Trail of Tears."
So Take Em Down NOLA plans a rally on September 24, hoping to mobilize enough people to take down the statue themselves.
"People who understand and support our struggle for freedom, who support the taking down of all these racist monuments, the street names, the school names," Suber said. "We expect all of them to join with us, and we just need to put ropes on him and pull him off his pedestal."
"White supremacy doesn't only affect African American people, it affects the whole nation, the whole country," said fellow organizer Joe Stern.
"We invite people to join us and come out and support our activity," said Suber, who admitted that it might be hard to pull the statue down without a substantial amount of help. "That would be difficult, but we've got more than twenty, we know we've got more than twenty."
I asked an Australian lawyer and a new resident about the idea.
"There's a move to pull that statue down. Why would you do that?" Australian Barrister Peter Mitchell said, aghast. "Why would people do that? Why would they even think of doing that? I mean, that's history."
"During the slavery time, even thought that was like, it was bad, you know, for like, for most colored, like for a lot of colored people, but I mean it's history, why not leave it up there," added Juduthe Chavanne, who is thrilled to have moved here.
"They have decided to replace Jackson on the twenty dollar bill with Harriet Tubman, who don't we call this Harriet Tubman Square, or Freedom Square," Suber concluded.
A spokesman for the Mayor says the City remains committed to removing the original four monuments, and there is a federal appeals court hearing on the issue September 28. As for the Jackson statue, the City understands the emotions, but asks that any demonstration be peaceful and respectful, noting vandalism of public property is prohibited.
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