Two statues of historical figures in New Orleans were toppled from their bases late Thursday or early Friday and a third was vandalized with spray paint in the same time period, police revealed on Friday.
As The New Orleans Times Picayune reported, the bust of Confederate Col. Charles Didier Dreux was discovered on Friday morning having been knocked down from the pedestal that had previously held it. Dreux was the first Confederate field officer killed in the Civil War and the statue honoring him has been damaged multiple times in its history, including at one point having its nose chiseled off.
Across town, a statue of philanthropist John McDonogh was also found knocked off its pedestal. According to ABC News, McDonogh built up a fortune as a merchant and plantation owner and at one point owned 200 slaves. After his death, he bequeathed most of his money to building schools for white children and freed Black children in New Orleans and Baltimore; indeed, in the Crescent City alone, his bequest was responsible for building at least 30 schools. Another statue of McDonogh elsewhere in the city had been torn down earlier this month, its bust thrown into the Mississippi River.
A third monument, that of educator and philanthropist Sophie B. Wright, was also damaged, with the letters BLM (Black Lives Matter) spray-painted on it and a hood placed over its head. Wright had used her family’s considerable wealth to provide food, clothing, and medicine during an 1897 Yellow Fever epidemic in the city, according to 64parishes, and had also spearheaded the prison reform movement and advocated for building public playgrounds. She was also the daughter of a Confederate soldier and a member of the social organization Daughters of the Confederacy.
A local group, “Take ‘Em Down,” has called for the removal of all three monuments in the city.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell, through a spokesperson, promised consequences for the vandals of all three monuments.
“The administration is in complete support of peaceful demonstrations and of our people making their voices heard. But the destruction and vandalism of City property will not be tolerated. These incidents will be fully investigated and those responsible will face consequences,” said Cantrell spokesperson Beau Tidwell.
Tidwell did not mention any plans to protect the statues, such as moving them into storage or to a museum, nor did he provide any insight into the mayor’s stance on removing them.
Other Southern cities are grappling with statues of problematic historical figures in their own ways. For example, as previously reported by The Inquisitr, the county in which Oxford, Mississippi sits has decided to keep its Confederate monument in its place in the town square. A few hundred miles away, however, Mobile, Alabama has decided to move a statue of a Confederate admiral to a museum.