Process of replacing New Orleans monuments slow going

The removal of four Confederate-era statues ended years of fiery public debate in the city about the symbolism of those monuments which some said represented slavery and racial injustice.

NEW ORLEANS -- The removal of four Confederate-era statues ended years of fiery public debate in the city about the symbolism of those monuments which some said represented slavery and racial injustice.

In April, Mayor Mitch Landrieu promised the process of deciding what would replace the statues would by public and transparent.

"I'm hoping that once we get them down we can have a short community discussion, but a lot of people have been thinking about a lot of it," Landrieu said at the time.

He also promised that once the Lee statue came down, he would appoint a group of people to come up with a new plan for Lee Circle within 90 days.

But, in the two months since the statue's removal it doesn't appear any committee has been formed.

Malcolm Suber, who led the Take ’Em Down NOLA campaign, said that so far his group has not been contacted by the mayor's office to submit ideas for Lee Circle.

"We are still saying to the mayor we want it to be a dynamic process in which all of the different elements of the community are consulted," Suber said.

A spokesman for the Monumental Task Committee, which fought to keep the statues, said the mayor's office hasn't contacted his group either about Lee Circle or any of the other three former monument sites in the city.

While not answering our question about whether a Lee Circle committee has been formed, the city continues to promise a "robust public engagement process to repurpose" the site.

According to a May 18, press release from the city, the area that formerly housed the Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway would be replaced by an American flag.

Tuesday, there was no such flag at the site.

The city was also expected to work with the City Park Improvement Association and New Orleans Museum of Art to determine what would replace the P.G.T. Beauregard statue at the entrance to the park.

"Due to the complexity of the legal issues surrounding the property on which the P.G.T. Beauregard monument was situated, the city and the City Park Improvement Association will continue to have good-faith discussions regarding that property,” a city spokeswoman said. “The statue will be considered separately based on the result of those discussions."

As of Tuesday, the base of the former monument remained untouched.

The area that formerly housed the Battle of Liberty Place monument will remain as is.

As for the request for proposals to relocate the Confederate statues, all the city would say is that document is expected to be released soon.

A public selection committee made up of city officials will make a recommendation for entities to receive and display the statues, with approval by the City Council.

 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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