Civil Rights

Friday, March 25, 2016

Confederate monuments can't be moved until appeal is heard, says 5th Circuit

Posted By on Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 11:36 AM

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A federal appellate court put the brakes on the city’s plans to remove three Confederate monuments and a statue honoring a white supremacist revolt.

A March 25 ruling from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction against Mayor Mitch Landrieu and city officials, preventing the removal of the monuments before the plaintiffs have a chance to have their appeal heard. The monuments’ removal was decided by a New Orleans City Council vote in December following Landrieu’s proposal and several public meetings. The Monumental Task Committee, the Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Foundation for a Historical Louisiana, and Beauregard Camp No. 130 filed a suit against the city following that decision, but their case was dismissed in federal court.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Judge denies request to halt Confederate monument removal

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 4:15 PM

The Jefferson Davis monument in 2004. - BART EVERSON/FLICKR
  • BART EVERSON/FLICKR
  • The Jefferson Davis monument in 2004.
The City of New Orleans is now free to begin removing four controversial Confederate landmarks. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has denied a request from several parties that filed suit after the New Orleans City Council approved Mayor Mitch Landrieu's plans to begin removing the four monuments — Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and a monument to the Battle of Liberty Place.

Barbier's pending denial was forecasted during a Jan. 14 hearing in which he verbally swatted down nearly every argument from the plaintiffs, which include the Louisiana Landmark Society, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, the Monumental Task Committee and Beauregard Camp No. 130, a local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans,

The suit challenged Mayor Mitch Landrieu and federal agencies by arguing that “the city intentionally discriminated against defenders of these four monuments,” among a dozen other challenges — including that moving them would damage them, and that the federally funded streetcar lines should protect the two monuments near them. The suit also alleges that the city violated due process and equal protection. Barbier dismissed all of the above.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Y@ Speak: the end of sports and monuments

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 12:38 PM

A bronze Tom Benson remains while a playoff-forbidden Saints soldier on and Confederate monuments do not. Drew Brees' biggest problem last week involved a Star Wars drone and Elf on the Shelf, while the city rallies around removing four controversial monuments, Royal Street is a restaurant-designated terror target, and, as per tradition, a mysteriously lonely Bunny Bread bunny signals the beginning of Christmas. 

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

New Orleans City Council votes to remove four Confederate statues

Posted By on Thu, Dec 17, 2015 at 4:05 PM

Members of Take 'Em Down NOLA and Stand With Dignity appeared at New Orleans City Council Dec. 17 supporting an ordinance to remove four Confederate monuments.
  • Members of Take 'Em Down NOLA and Stand With Dignity appeared at New Orleans City Council Dec. 17 supporting an ordinance to remove four Confederate monuments.

Monuments depicting Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis as well as a memorial marker to the Battle of Liberty Place are coming down.

"We have the power and the right to correct these historical wrongs," Mayor Mitch Landrieu told members of New Orleans City Council. "The monuments do not now nor did they ever reflect the history, strength, richness, diversity and soul" of New Orleans. The decision is among the most sweeping efforts in the U.S. to remove or replace Confederate iconography.

The City Council voted 6-1 to remove the four monuments under a "nuisance" ordinance that applies to any public display that "honors, praises, or fosters ideologies which are in conflict with the requirements of equal protection for citizens" or "suggests the supremacy of one ethnic, religious, or racial group over any other, or gives honor or praise to any violent actions taken wrongfully against citizens of the city to promote ethnic, religious, or racial supremacy of any group over another." Landrieu – who signed the ordinance this afternoon — called for the monuments to be moved to a park or museum or a "proper place of remembrance, not reverence."

The vote followed months of focused, fiery debate and passionate reflection on what the history of those symbols mean to New Orleanians today — and today's hearing was no exception. Several people were escorted out of the City Council Chambers by police and public speakers and elected officials were booed and roasted. But that kind of loud introspection — from the council and the public — promised an opportunity to face the truths of the past while, Landrieu and councilmembers hope, embracing our neighbors.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Final public meeting on Confederate monuments ignites explosive debate

Posted By on Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 9:55 PM

Police escort a speaker from the podium at another contentious meeting on the fate of Confederate monuments in New Orleans.
  • Police escort a speaker from the podium at another contentious meeting on the fate of Confederate monuments in New Orleans.

A final public hearing over a controversial ordinance to remove four Confederate monuments erupted in fiery debate and passionate reflection over the future of New Orleans and its relationship to the symbols those statues represent. 

Over nearly four hours, dozens of people approached the podium in a packed New Orleans City Council Chambers on Dec. 10 in support of the ordinance — which goes to a vote before the City Council on Dec. 17 — and against it, with many people wearing "All History Matters" stickers. Rev. Shawn Anglin of First United Methodist Church (which sits on Jefferson Davis Parkway) seemed to take the temperature of the room: "If there's one thing we learned today, it's that symbols have power."

Two people were removed by police — one, gallery owner George Schmidt, waved a middle finger to a crowd who were vocally upset with Schmidt comparing the monuments' removal to the actions of Muslims. Another man was removed after he shouted "We have to fight them" during another speaker supporting the monuments. He also blasted City Council President Jason WIlliams for pulling his turn to speak when the majority of monument supporters had left.

Williams — who had asked the crowd to respect one another's statements, despite disagreements — grew weary as the crowd remained unruly throughout nearly the entire meeting. Williams banged his gavel: "We are better than this!"

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Bicyclists ride to Angola to support families of Louisiana's prisoners

Posted By on Fri, Oct 16, 2015 at 2:45 PM

Bicyclists with Nola to Angola ride from New Orleans to Louisiana State Penitentiary to raise money for a bus program that lets riders visit incarcerated family members. - CARLTON MICKLE
  • CARLTON MICKLE
  • Bicyclists with Nola to Angola ride from New Orleans to Louisiana State Penitentiary to raise money for a bus program that lets riders visit incarcerated family members.

At 8 a.m. today, more than 50 bicyclists pedaled from the steps of the New Orleans Police Department headquarters to make the nearly 200-mile trek to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. It's the fifth annual bike ride for Nola to Angola, which gathers riders to support the Cornerstone Builder's Bus Project — and it's the group's largest ride yet.

Since 2007, Cornerstone has provided free monthly 55-passenger bus rides to families of incarcerated people, keeping intact communication between people imprisoned throughout the state — which has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world — and support on the outside. Making long trips to visit incarcerated family members often is cost prohibitive for many families in the state, and Cornerstone aims to ease that burden. Nola to Angola serves as a lifeline to help fund them. 

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

White supremacist from Welcome to Leith back in the news

Posted By on Tue, Oct 13, 2015 at 5:56 PM

Kynan Dutton, Craig Cobb and Deb Henderson walk the streets of Leith, North Dakota in Welcome to Leith. - GREGORY BRUCE
  • GREGORY BRUCE
  • Kynan Dutton, Craig Cobb and Deb Henderson walk the streets of Leith, North Dakota in Welcome to Leith.

The documentary Welcome to Leith follows white supremacist Craig Cobb's 2013 attempt to create an Aryan enclave in Leith, North Dakota. He bought a dozen properties with the notion of having followers move in and also buy other homes, eventually enabling them to politically control the town of 24 people. The townspeople did not like the idea, and demonstrations followed, including by neo-Nazi groups and others. 

The movie is one of the documentaries screening in the New Orleans Film Festival this week, and it is a real-life thriller, as Cobb attempts to intimidate his neighbors, white supremacists descend on the town and neighbors fight back. The filmmakers followed the story from the early protests through the heated maneuvering to control the town's makeup, and they spent plenty of time with Cobb. Welcome to Leith and other festival documentaries are reviewed here

Cobb made news again last week. Spoiler alert: details after the jump.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Y@ Speak: 10 years and some days later

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 12:30 PM

If Twitter was around 10 years ago, what would New Orleans look like today? (I got in touch with friends and family through, um, Livejournal back then; Facebook wasn't really helpful.) Last week was most definitely a week. We talked about it, listened, goofed around, then Lil Wayne came home, we walked a lot, then cried a lot, then Thomas Morstead ended it appropriately by puking in a trash can.

Because I can't fit it all on here: read Michael Grunwald's tweets on the frustrations of reporting on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, all of the updates from Rising Tide X, and the story behind @skooks, in his words.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Memorials and second lines in New Orleans commemorate Katrina's 10th anniversary

Posted By on Sat, Aug 29, 2015 at 4:40 PM

Several social aid and pleasure clubs led a march and second line from the Lower 9th Ward.
  • Several social aid and pleasure clubs led a march and second line from the Lower 9th Ward.

Before he led a procession of city, state and U.S. officials, all carrying wreaths, clarinetist Dr. Michael White performed "Amazing Grace" to a crowd gathered under a white tent nearby.

In marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and elected officials held a somber memorial for the lives lost in the floods, particularly the dozens of people interred at the memorial.

"They are not unclaimed, because we claim them," Landrieu said.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

#BlackLivesMatter co-founder Alicia Garza delivers keynote at Katrina memorial

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 10:57 AM

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#BlackLivesMatter co-founder Alicia Garza told a packed audience at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center that despite the city’s largely positive message of recovery during the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures, there exists a “tale of two cities.”

Garza helped coin the hashtag and phrase, which has gained traction worldwide, in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. She delivered the keynote speech for “Katrina 10 Year Memorial: Equity, Justice and Black Leadership for New Orleans” on Aug. 27.

Garza, special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said Katrina and the levee failures were another chapter in the country’s “storm of structural racism and violence.” The government’s failure to protect black lives as infrastructure crumbled and levees collapsed, as well as its failure “to bring people home,” are among the “most defining moments of my generation,” she said.

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