General P.G.T. Beauregard’s long ride at the entrance of New Orleans’ City Park came to an end late Tuesday night when workers took down the historic statue, among four Confederate monuments being removed despite protests.
The 27-foot monument, featuring the general on horseback, was dedicated in 1915 and weighed an estimated 12,000 pounds. Beauregard is the general who ordered the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in 1861. His was the third of four monuments coming down in the city’s attempt to rectify post-Civil War divisions and eliminate icons of white supremacy from places of prominence, but some object to what they consider erasing history.
The Liberty Monument, which honored the Crescent City White League, a group of whites who tried to overthrow a biracial post-Civil War government in New Orleans, was taken down last month. The monument of Jefferson Davis, the slave-owning president of the Confederate States, was taken down earlier this week. The last one set to come down is of General Robert E. Lee.
Similar to the first two removals, the process with the Beauregard statue began late at night and went into the early morning, ending at about 3 a.m. Workers covered their faces, though they did not wear bulletproof vests, which was a precautionary measure taken during the first two due to death threats to the contractor. Protesters for and against the removal were in attendance Tuesday night, some waving American flags some waving Confederate flags, as happened when the Davis statue was removed. But the event remained peaceful.
Supporters included a brass band that began playing after midnight to celebrate.
The removal of the monuments was prompted by the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church. The shooter, Dylann Roof, was a proud racist who flaunted the Confederate flag, reinforcing many people’s belief that Confederate symbols represent hate more than history.
“Today we take another step in defining our City not by our past but by our bright future,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a news release. “While we must honor our history, we will not allow the Confederacy to be put on a pedestal in the heart of New Orleans.”
Regarding the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument, the city said Tuesday that because “intimidation, threats, and violence, serious safety concerns remain,” so it would not provide a timeline.
Such removals in the future might be left up to the public, as the Louisiana House passed a bill Monday that would protect Confederate monuments in the state by requiring a special election for voters to approve the action.