Federal judge refuses to stop monument removal
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge declined to issue an injunction Tuesday which would have stopped work to remove several New Orleans monuments to Confederate figures.
WWL-TV says U. S. District Judge Carl Barbier refused to halt work to remove statues of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, P. G. T. Beauregard and the Liberty Place monument.
Members of the New Orleans City Council voted 6-1 on Dec. 17 to declare the monuments public nuisance, which cleared the way for their removal. A group of people including the Monumental Task Committee, Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana and Beauregard Camp No. 130 filed a federal lawsuit seeking overturn the decision.
The city agreed to wait for legal proceedings to go through their course before beginning work to remove the monuments.
During a Jan. 14 hearing Judge Barbier took issue with arguments made by the preservationists, and said he was not swayed by claims the decision violated the Constitution by not giving enough due process before a decision was reached. He noted the city held multiple committee meetings and two hours-long, contentious public meetings before voting to declare the statues public nuisances.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu spearheaded the efforts to remove the monuments after several people were killed in a South Carolina church in what investigators said was a racially-motivated attack. The contractor initially selected to remove the monuments said he received death threats after agreeing to the work, and later requested that he be allowed to withdraw from the contract.
Landrieu said he doesn't want the statues demolished, just moved somewhere else such as a Civil War park. He said the statues should be replaced with monuments which better reflect New Orleans' history and people as the city approaches its tricentennial in 2018.