The movement to remove Confederate monuments from the City of News Orleans has been blocked, at least for now. On Friday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal issued an order stopping the city from taking them down until all appeals have been exhausted.
Supporters of keeping the Confederate monuments in place argued that the removal process would damage them beyond repair should a later court decide they are to remain. While not giving any specific reasons, the three-judge panel granted an injunction against the city’s immediate removal of the monuments until other pending cases are heard.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the City Council approved an ordinance authorizing the removal of several Confederate monuments four months ago. The council declared the statues of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard were public nuisances. A monument commemorating the Battle of Liberty Place was also slated to be removed.
Since the approval, however, New Orleans has been running up against different roadblocks to get the elimination projects underway.
The city does not have the proper equipment to appropriately and carefully take the Confederate monuments down, forcing them to find a professional contractor to perform the work. However, many companies are refusing to take the job.
One contractor, H&O Investments, LLC, of Baton Rouge, was willing to take on the project, but soon backed out. The company began enduring death threats and insults as well as public backlash on social media sites. The contractor had even received pressure from other businesses threatening to cancel contracts with them.
According to attorney Roy Maughan Jr., who represents the contractor, several workers were intimidated by members of a white supremacy group while out taking measurements at one of the monument sites. On the same day, an ominous phone call was received by the city from an anonymous person warning workers to leave the site before something happened to them. Within days, H&O cancelled the contract with New Orleans.
Even after the contractor left the job, the threats of violence continued. On January 19, the owner of H&O walked outside his office in Baton Rouge and found his Lamborghini on fire. No arrests have been made, but the incident remains under investigation.
The city again opened up the bidding in an effort to find a new contractor to take the Confederate monuments down. However, any business that expressed interest in doing the work was quickly flooded with emails and phone calls criticizing their association with the project. The city has since stopped disclosing the names of potential contractors.
Ever since nine parishioners were killed at a black church in South Carolina, the debate over Confederate symbols has been raging. As South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from government buildings, other southern cities began removing monuments and other symbols as well.
In the six months following the church shooting in June, nearly 360 rallies were held nationwide supporting the Confederate flag. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, pro-flag demonstrations were very uncommon before then.
There are many area residents who support the efforts of groups who want to see the New Orleans Confederate monuments stay. Many, like Michel-Antoine Goitia-Nicolas, can trace their family history to veterans of the Civil War and remain proud of their heritage.
“Our lesson in history is that when we tear down the monuments of the past, we rebuild the errors of our past. Why take it down? Put a statue of somebody positive in black history right here, in the midst of Beauregard, or in the midst of Lee. We support that.”
The city is still facing numerous legal challenges to the removal of the Confederate monuments. New Orleans may also face an obstruction from the state if pending legislation meant to save the statues is passed.
[Photo by AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File]