At the risk of sounding pretentious: New Orleans began removing our Confederates monuments months before it became fashionable. Following South Carolina’s lead after the 2015 Dylan Roof shootings, Mayor Mitch Landrieu—whose policies have otherwise done more to burden local African Americans than to help them—boosted his stock by leading the charge against General Robert E. Lee. Today, the Confederate leader’s bronze likeness no longer looms high above Lee Circle, his eyes no longer fixed on his enemies to the north.
But it wasn’t easy to reach that point, as anyone who lived here during the months-long debate can attest. Much can be learned from New Orleans’s painful, protracted battle to boot all its remaining Confederates. If your city plans to confront this problem soon—which it should—then let me offer some advice:
Don’t list the contractor’s name in the paper
The Landrieu administration made the mistake of announcing the name of the first company hired to ax General Lee. Of course, extra-passionate “history buffs” set fire to the contractor’s car (a Lamborghini no less). After that contractor quit out of fear, it took a long time to find a replacement. While that hunt dragged on, the pro-monument Monumental Task Committee began suing the city, further gumming up the process.
Do it fast
New Orleans did not have many examples to follow, and so came out the gate clumsy. Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh must have been watching our struggle, because she had four of her city’s monuments to racists removed under cover of night less than 48 hours after the decision was made to get rid of them. CLICK HERE to read the rest of the piece at VICE…
Or watch this mini-documentary about Nazis visiting New Orleans to protect the monuments (they failed).