Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Monuments II

P.G.T. Beauregard was a general of the Confederate Army. His statue was situated prominently at a roundabout at the entrance of City Park with the New Orleans Museum of Art in sight. Even today he seems to have many fans that were sitting around his pedestal, guarding the statue from the iconoclasts.


Apart from the general, the horse had fans as well. They claimed, that it was not the horse's fault and that it should stay and only the rider be removed.

On the day of the removal of his statue someone posted a huge ad in the local newspaper, accusing the mayor of being a dictator and not respecting democracy. I am not sure why, because as I understand it, the city council was elected by the people of New Orleans and therefore I think that their vote respects all aspects of representative democracy. But, as a European, I may not have understood everything right. Another ad followed a couple of days later, however, it was much smaller.

The major argument however, concerns the cause for the Civil War: It said, the war had been fought for economical reasons and not because of slavery. Well, if you considered slaves not to be human beings but an economic asset which someone tries to take away, I guess you could call the reasons economic. However, Mitch didn't listen and history took its course

I received a call from a friend at around 11 pm that the statue was about to come down. Living not far from the location I cycled there and found curious onlookers of various backgrounds. Two young men kept shouting that this wasn't right, that taxpayers' money was wasted instead of spending it for reducing crime in the city. Also, they kept arguing that Germany had kept the concentration camps and so New Orleans should keep the statues as not to erase history. I didn't want to get involved to correct this crooked argument. But, of course, there is a difference between an authentic location that is preserved as a museum and as a site of remembrance and a statue that has been erected many years after the war in order to show the former slaves and the North that they were not well received here.

Others held US flags or waved Trump flags. But there were also those who were in favor of what was happening in the distance, looking on and quietly discussing the issue at hand.

I did not really see any of the removal activities as the police line held everyone in the distance.

I didn't stay on until the monument was taken down, but went to have a look on the next morning. It was very quiet, no protests, no flags.

Later that day a man and his son sprayed the general's name on the pedestal and were arrested for defacing a landmark. A judge ruled that they may only be tried for defacing public property, as the empty pedestal is no longer considered a landmark. The paint was immediately removed.

Yesterday I saw that the city has put a wooden board in front of the pedestal and the bricks are no longer visible. I'll have to take a picture of that later.

On the day of P.G.T. Beauregard's removal the Louisiana House of Representatives passed a bill that provides that no military monument of any war may be removed unless a referendum is held and the voters' majority approves the removal. After the bill passed the black caucus walked out. The bill will have to go to the State Senate next.

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