Removing Confederate Monuments In New Orleans Prompts Federal Lawsuit To Stop The Effort

Removing Monuments Update: Just a few hours after the New Orleans City Council voted 6 to 1 to remove four Confederate monuments from around the city, a federal lawsuit was filed to prevent local lawmakers from moving forward. The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Louisiana by a NOLA chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and three historic preservation societies, CNN notes.

In the federal lawsuit filed to stop the city of New Orleans from removing monuments, the historic preservation societies state that the Robert E. Lee monument at Lee Circle, the Battle of Liberty Place monument, and two other Civil War monuments, are "key destinations" on the streetcar line which was created, paid for, and maintained by the defendants.

Removing Monuments federal lawsuit filed - Lee Circle Protest

The filing goes on to say that the monuments are therefore protected under the National Registrar of Historic Places statutes. The Battle of Liberty Place was moved from its original location to where it is currently placed via federal funds and is also protected by similar statutes, the lawsuit claims.

New Orleans is removing Confederate monuments from public spaces in the Crescent City. Civil War monuments honoring the service and sacrifice of the Confederacy are reportedly located along some of the busiest NOLA streets. The 6 to 1 vote to remove the monuments was met with heated debated from both sides of the issue.

A total of four Confederate monuments will be removed in the near future due to the vote by New Orleans City Council. One of the monuments, a General Robert E. Lee memorial, has adorned the center of a city street traffic circle, known as Lee Circle, for about 131 years, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

NOLA residents and lawmakers have been embroiled in a Confederate monuments debate for months. Now that the vote has finally been taken, the city of New Orleans may face lawsuits from groups determined to keep the Civil War monuments right where they are.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu was among those who rapidly decided it was time to remove all Confederate monuments and Confederate flags, MSN reports. Those who oppose what they deem a knee-jerk reaction to the shooting have been quick to point out that after the San Bernardino shooting, the nation was urged not to blame all Muslims for the mass shooting by radicalized ISIS terrorists -- therefore, all those who cherish the history and "Southern Pride" associated with the Confederate symbols should not be forced to see them disappear.

"We must reckon with out past," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said after the vote to remove the Confederate monuments was taken. The local official also said that the Civil War monuments divide the city, limit progress, and reinforce the "ideology of slavery."

Before Thursday's vote, Mayor Mitch Landrieu told the council and residents who gathered on both sides of the issue that for New Orleans to move forward, "we must reckon with our past."

In a speech made after the decision to remove the Lee Circle and other Confederate monuments in the city, Mayor Landrieu also had the following to say.

"The time surely comes when (justice) must and will be heard. Members of the council, that day is today. The Confederacy, you see, was on the wrong side of history and humanity. We, the people of New Orleans, have the power and we have the right to correct these historical wrongs."
The mayor is calling for the Confederate monuments to be placed in a museum or Civil War park, notes.

New Orleans Councilwoman Stacy Head was the sole vote against the Confederate statues removal. Head said that taking down the historical Civil War monuments will not aid either the economic or social barriers that citizens of the city struggle with on a daily basis.

"I asked for a compromise multiple times. But that compromise was not given any chance," Councilwoman Stacy Head added.

The compromise she proposed suggested that an amendment be created allowed two monuments, including the General Robert E. Lee monument, to remain where they are and an "explanatory" plaque be added beneath the memorials. The measure was tabled after it failed to get a second from her peers.

Mayor Landrieu and councilwoman Head engaged in a bit of a testy exchange after a compromise couldn't be reached, and immediate plans for the removed Confederate monuments was not presented to the New Orleans City Council members.

What do you think about the New Orleans removal of the Confederate monuments?

[Photo by AP Photo/Gerald Herbert]