Mayor Landrieu: Confederacy was on wrong side of humanity

Courtesy: Wiki Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 / MGN

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Latest on the removal of Confederate-related monuments from New Orleans (all times local):

4 p.m.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has declared that the Confederacy was "on the wrong side of humanity" as he delivered a speech on the city's decision to remove four Confederate monuments from public view.

Friday afternoon's speech came as workers continued their efforts to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the towering pedestal it has occupied on a New Orleans traffic circle since 1884.

The City Council approved Landrieu's proposal to remove the monuments in 2015.

Landrieu said Friday that the monuments represent a "sanitized" view of the Confederacy. He added that they were erected years after the Civil War ended by people who wanted to show that white supremacy still held sway in the city.

"These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history," Landrieu said. "These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for."

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2:20 pm.

Workers backed by a crane have tied ropes around a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which has perched atop a 60-foot (18 meter)-high pedestal in a traffic circle where it has been since 1884. Friday's removal effort comes after a long and divisive battle over whether old South emblems represent racism or an honorable heritage.

While many were supportive of removal, opinions varied widely in the crowd of hundreds that gathered to watch Friday.

Many said it was time for the statue to come down. But Frank Varela Jr., a New Orleans native carrying an American flag, said he thought Lee should stay up as "a part of the South."

"It's part of history. It's a part of my heritage," said Varela. "I was born and raised here. It's been here all my life ... When we came back from Katrina it was here. It's survived every hurricane this city has ever seen."

Police on horseback lined up nearby as a security precaution and traffic was diverted away from the area. But those protesters opposed to removal were few as the removal work wore on Friday afternoon - though some shouted against it from the crowd.

For many others, it was a time for festivities. Bystander Brittnie Grasmick danced to the song "Another One Bites the Dust." Some brought out lawn chairs to watch, entertained by a trumpeter who played "Dixie" - but in a minor key.



 
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