Speed Reads

out with the old

On 'Confederate Memorial Day,' New Orleans begins removing controversial Civil War monuments

New Orleans removed the first of four designated Confederate monuments Monday as workers toiled in the dark of night to bring down the Liberty Monument, which honors a white supremacist group that attempted to overthrow the city's Reconstruction-era biracial government, NBC News reports. The workers arrived at the site at around 1:25 a.m. in the hopes of avoiding protests from the monuments' supporters, who have even made death threats toward those working to take down the city's most glaring Confederate symbols.

"The monuments are an aberration," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. "They're actually a denial of our history and they were done in a time when people who still controlled the Confederacy were in charge of this city and it only represents a four-year period in our 1,000-year march to where we are today."

The city also plans to remove statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis. Landrieu called the Liberty Monument "the most offensive of the four."

"I think it's a terrible thing," said one supporter of the monuments, Robert Bonner, a 63-year-old Civil War re-enactor. "When you start removing the history of the city, you start losing money. You start losing where you came from and where you've been."

Coincidentally, the removal of the Liberty Statue falls on "Confederate Memorial Day," with state government offices in Mississippi and Alabama closed in commemoration of soldiers who fought to secede from the Union. "History deserves study and reflection, no matter how unpleasant or complicated parts of it may be," said a spokesperson for Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, who named April "Confederate Heritage Month" in his state in 2016.