Mitch Landrieu

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Confederate statues receive recommendation for removal

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 6:32 PM

Lee Circle in 2010. - FW_GADGET/FLICKR
  • Lee Circle in 2010.

Update: A second city committee, the Human Relations Commission, also recommended the statues' removal at its meeting following the Historic District Landmarks Commission. Its recommendation will be sent to the full New Orleans City Council. 

The New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) recommended today that four Confederate monuments "may be removed" following a push from Mayor Mitch Landrieu as well as the New Orleans City Council to consider the statues' futures. The HDLC voted 11-1.

The monuments include P.G.T. Beauregard outside City Park, Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle, Jefferson Davis on Jefferson Davis Parkway, and a monument commemorating the Reconstruction-era Battle of Liberty Place.

The City Council passed a resolution considering the statues a "nuisance" based on a 1993 ordinance that calls for the removal of property 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." Judy Reese Morse and Scott Hutcheson from the mayor's office said the monuments represent the Lost Cause following the Civil War, in that they were erected during racially divisive Reconstruction efforts to nobilize the cause and have become symbols of white supremacy and ideologies that continue to oppress minorities. Morse said the discussion isn't so much about the men represented by the monuments but "the ideology that caused their monuments to be erected in the first place."

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

City of New Orleans to host public meetings on Confederate landmarks

Posted By on Tue, Aug 4, 2015 at 4:45 PM

click image Lee Circle in 2010. - FW_GADGET/FLICKR
  • Lee Circle in 2010.

Following last week's invite-only daylong discussion on the future of the city's Confederate landmarks, the City of New Orleans hosts two meetings next week that are open to the public.

The Historic District Landmarks Commission hosts a meeting in City Council chambers at City Hall (1300 Perdido St.) from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, followed by a Human Relations Commission meeting at 6 p.m. 

Up for discussion are the possible relocations of several monuments to the confederacy, including a statue of Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle, a Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway, a P.G.T. Beauregard statue in front of City Park, and the Liberty Place Monument on Iberville Street.

Public discussion began in City Council chambers last month as Mayor Mitch Landrieu made his pitch to relocate the monuments, asking how New Orleans — amid its efforts "to inspire a nation" — can do so while several highly visible landmarks include symbols and echoes of white supremacy. The City Council agreed. Louisiana Cultural Vistas magazine and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities also hosted a packed-house panel on the history and legacies of those landmarks — a full transcript and audio of the discussion is available online. Though the historians on the panel held that their perspective of the monuments allows them to see them more as archeological artifacts, they largely agreed the monuments' symbolism should be reinterpreted to reflect their place in today's (and the future's) worldview. "This is an opportunity to take the mythology of the Lost Cause head on," said Loyola University professor Justin Nystrom. "I don’t think anybody wants our kids feeling oppressed by a monument. These are teaching moments. We didn’t learn this in school. Well, maybe we can learn something in the public space."

According to a release, comment cards at the Human Relations Commission meeting must be submitted no later than 7 p.m. in order for participants to speak. The city also is accepting public comments online at or Those comments must be received by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11 to be entered into the record.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

'Nuisance' or history?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 8:51 AM

The debate over New Orleans Confederate monuments could become a teaching moment about slavery and the fight for freedom.
  • The debate over New Orleans' Confederate monuments could become a 'teaching moment' about slavery and the fight for freedom.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu did not attend a forum on the fate of local Confederate monuments last Thursday at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. That’s too bad. He might have learned something.

Of course, that’s no guarantee that Hizzoner would have changed his mind on the question of what to do with statues of Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis, along with the monument to the White League riot of 1874. He asked the City Council on July 9 to begin a process that would declare the monuments “nuisances,” ostensibly precipitating their removal.

At the same council meeting, Landrieu gave the appearance of offering the monuments their day in court, even if it was a Judge Roy Bean sort of court. He asked council members to hold public hearings and to get comments from various city agencies (all of which answer to Hizzoner) — before drafting an ordinance declaring them nuisances. The council unanimously adopted a resolution putting that process in motion.

In the wake of the Charleston massacre, there’s little sympathy for the Lost Cause, but at last Thursday’s LEH forum there was quite a bit of interest in history. A panel of distinguished local historians discussed the origins of the White League, efforts to enforce “white supremacy” post-Reconstruction, and the lasting impact of these and other events on African-Americans. The historians were not exactly Confederate sympathizers, but none said take the statues down. Instead, they added much-needed context to the debate over the statues’ future.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Louisiana Cultural Vistas to hold discussion of Confederate monuments in New Orleans

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 2:54 PM

The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, located in Lee Circle, looks down on St. Charles Avenue by night. - CREATIVE COMMONS/PAT "CLETCH" WILLIAMS
  • The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, located in Lee Circle, looks down on St. Charles Avenue by night.

What to do about New Orleans' Confederate monuments — if anything — has been a hot topic around town since the Confederate flag flap in South Carolina and Mayor Mitch Landrieu's call to get four Confederate monuments in New Orleans taken down or moved.

On July 23, Louisiana Cultural Vistas magazine will host a forum on the subject, focusing on the history of each, as well as the significance of Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis to the city of New Orleans directly. According to the magazine, "the conversation is intended to add a historical perspective to the ongoing debate over how the South interprets the memory of the Civil War and Reconstruction."

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Phil Anselmo weighs in on the Confederate flag

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2015 at 8:34 PM

Phil Anselmo says he doesn't buy the argument that a Confederate flag represents "heritage, not hate."
  • Phil Anselmo says he doesn't buy the argument that a Confederate flag represents "heritage, not hate."

Though Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the New Orleans City Council support taking down or renaming four Confederate monuments in the city, the hot-button issue of flying any of the Confederate flags hasn't become an issue in New Orleans — probably because Confederate flags don't fly on any public property.

But musician Phil Anselmo — a New Orleans native and ex-Pantera member, now performing with the all-star metal band Superjoint Ritual — told the website Hard Rock Haven that he regretted Pantera's past use of the flag:

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Y@ Speak: on a pedestal

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2015 at 12:38 PM

As city officials contemplate the inevitable Saddam-style teardown of the city's Confederate landmarks, Anthony Davis is on his way to getting his own statue, some day, somewhere, hopefully in all public rights of way. People are also excited about another landmark — a grocery store opening in Metairie — because wine there, so they say, is $2 yet socially acceptable to purchase. Meanwhile: Gov. Bobby Jindal, a brass band and Mardi Gras Indians walk into an anti-abortion conference...

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Monumental issue

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 3:52 PM

Should Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders continue to stand on pedestals along New Orleans most prominent boulevards? Or would removing them amount to erasing history?
  • Should Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders continue to stand on pedestals along New Orleans' most prominent boulevards? Or would removing them amount to "erasing history?"

In 1862, Union forces captured the Confederate jewel of New Orleans without firing a shot in the city. That’s a big reason why so many historic buildings here still stand. It would be nice if the 2015 battle over Confederate monuments in New Orleans could proceed so peacefully.

To hear many folks tell it, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s proposal to take down four Confederate monuments will cause him to be remembered alongside Union Gen. Benjamin “Spoons” Butler, who brought iron-fisted order to captive New Orleans, along with some looting of silverware by his troops.

Yes, some folks still get riled about that. Many more get quite upset at the notion of taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee, saying it’s a local landmark or, far worse, that removing Confederate statues amounts to erasing history.

That Lee is revered by Old South romantics is indisputable. What’s open to debate is whether he and other Confederate leaders should remain, literally, on pedestals along the city’s premier boulevards. That’s the conversation Landrieu officially kicked off last week. Hizzoner has made up his own mind; he wants the statues down.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mayor Landrieu to host 2016 budget community meetings

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

It's "Budgeting for Outcomes" season. And it has come early.

The annual City of New Orleans budget process begins with a series of community meetings in each City Council district, and they usually are held in late August. This year, the meetings begin next week.

The meetings intend to create a "resident-driven budget" by hearing from residents in each council district. Following last year's meetings on the $537 million 2015 budget, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said residents wanted more funding for public safety, job creation, recreation and blight reduction. "We heard you loud and clear," he said last October in his budget address to the City Council.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mayor Mitch Landrieu talks racial violence with Ta-Nehisi Coates

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 1:15 PM

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
  • Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Following recent racial violence across the country, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates were asked, "Is violence a function of our culture?"

Yesterday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Landrieu and Coates — one a mayor who has pledged efforts toward racial reconciliation by apologizing for slavery and considering removing Confederate landmarks, the other whose writings on race and culture have become essential works in the wake of recent violence, protests and debate — both acknowledged the obvious problem of violence in America. 

"Is your city safe?" Landrieu said. "It depends. If you are a tourist coming into town ... and you're coming to my city and you want to come enjoy it, you're as safe in my city as any place in the world. But if you're a young African-American man, and you have had a problem getting a job, and you've had some interaction with the criminal justice system, and you live in one of four neighborhoods, you're an endangered species. And by the way, this is an epidemic. All over America, in every city, in five-six-seven neighborhoods, you get into an issue where you have a huge problem — and that's the essential problem I'm trying to solve."

But Coates said that simply calling that violence in black communities "black-on-black crime" ignores how it got there. He recalled his daily rituals growing up in Baltimore — from what to wear, how to walk to school, where to sit — and how they were largely about "negotiating" violence, or how to avoid it, as a mode of self-preservation. Following generations of slavery, Jim Crow and institutionalized racism, "Why are you shocked?" he asked of responses to consistently high murder rates among blacks. "It's ... to be expected if you read an honest rendering of American history. It horrifies me, but it doesn't shock me."

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Friday, June 26, 2015

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