NEW ORLEANS – The bronze equestrian statue of Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard at the entrance to City Park was removed shortly after 3 a.m. Wednesday.
Work began to remove it around 7 p.m. Tuesday, when police officers began moving people away from the monument in preparation for its removal.
According to Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni, the base of the statue will not be removed at this time. It is unclear when, or if, the base will be removed.
According to WWL-TV Reporter Duke Carter, police said Beauregard's name would be removed from the base, however, the rest of the base would remain.
There were a handful of arrests throughout the night by NOPD. Three people were arrested before the monument was lifted from its base. According to The New Orleans Advocate, NOPD said the charges were likely to be public drunkenness and an arson charge for trying to set a flag on fire. A woman was also arrested shortly after the statue was lifted up when she came ashore from a kayak in Bayou St. John near the monument.
Shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, massive spotlights, large cranes and a big work crew showed up at the scene to repeat the drill done twice before, preparing a monument for removal.
There were strong views from those watching the removal on both sides of the debate.
"When I was a little girl the statue was something fun that I drove by on my way to school," said Janet Rupert, a supporter of removing the monuments. "Learning more about the history of what it really represents, more than just it’s a work of art, it’s a statue, the reasons why it was put up in the first place, I think it’s time to take them down."
Some said regardless of what the statue represents, it's a work of art.
"To me, they are a historic landmark in the city, like a placeholder that has survived countless hurricanes," said a man who only identified himself as George. "That statue is 106 years old. Usually, in New Orleans, we’re really sad when we see a family restaurant of 50 years go. This is double that."
Others felt the city has bigger problems Mayor Mitch Landrieu is ignoring other than removing the monuments.
"New Orleans has potholes where cars can disappear," said one woman. "New Orleans is one of the highest crime rate cities in the nation. We have how many policemen standing out here, with their hands on their hips just looking us like we’re going to cause a riot? Where are his priorities?"
"Today we take another step in defining our City not by our past but by our bright future," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a statement issued Tuesday around 8:30 p.m. "While we must honor our history, we will not allow the Confederacy to be put on a pedestal in the heart of New Orleans."
Landrieu also said that the removal would cause some traffic issues with the following street closures: Moss Street between Desaix Boulevard and Esplanade Avenue and North Carrolton Avenue between Esplanade Avenue, and City Park Avenue will be closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
The Monumental Task Committee, in perhaps its most strongly-worded statement since the removal of the statues began, said the statue was of perhaps the most historically-significant Creole who ever lived.
"...its removal disgraces Louisiana people of Creole descent, and Beauregard was one of Louisiana's first civil rights leaders. The memorial that was taken down was to a man who worked to advance race relations through the 1873 Louisiana Unification Movement—contrast that against Landrieu whose actions and comments are entirely intolerant and divisive."
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