What You Have to Wear to Remove a Confederate Monument in New Orleans

April 24th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

The first of four Confederate monuments in New Orleans was removed in the cover of darkness, in keeping with Mayor Mitch Landrieu's promise to remove the statues, which many say glorify slavery and promote racism. But the move has been controversial.

Early Monday morning the first statue, the Battle of Liberty Place monument, was taken down. It will be moved to a place where it can be "put in historical context," according to a press release from the mayor's office. 

The monument was originally put up to honor the "Crescent City White League," which fought against the racially integrated New Orleans police and state militia.

“Relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, blame or retaliation," Landrieu said. "This is not a naive quest to solve all our problems at once. This is about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile — and most importantly — choose a better future."

The other statues scheduled for removal are the Robert E. Lee statue, the Jefferson Davis statue, and the P.G.T. Beauregard equestrian statue, all symbols of the Confederacy.

The decision to remove the monuments was controversial, with some people claiming the removal was an attempt to wash away Southern history.

However, many argued that taking the monuments down stops the "memorializing of hate." 

Intense arguments between supporters and opponents of the Confederate symbols reportedly broke out in front of the Battle of Liberty Place monument as it was being removed. The New Orleans Advocate posted a video of the tense interaction on Twitter. 

The monument removal is so controversial that city workers wore face masks and body suits to protect their identity in the middle of the night. 

The removal comes as three states celebrate Confederate Memorial Day, 152 years after the U.S. Civil War.

State governments in Mississippi closed Monday to officially recognize Confederate heritage and Georgia celebrated a "state holiday," according to CNN. Efforts by some Georgia lawmakers in 2017 to officially call the state holiday "Confederate Memorial Day" failed. 

In 2016, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant issued a proclamation declaring the month of April "Confederate Heritage Month."

Dylann Roof revived the national debate about the Confederate flag after he shot and killed nine people in a historically black South Carolina church in June 2015, making white supremacist statements amid the slaughter. Photos emerged after the shooting of Roof posing with Confederate symbols.

South Carolina previously flew the Confederate flag in front of the state house, but after the shooting there was a national outcry for it to be removed. Former Gov. Nikki Haley, now U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, ordered the flag removed; it was taken down in July 2015.

“In South Carolina, we honor tradition, we honor history, we honor heritage, but there’s a place for that flag, and that flag needs to be in a museum, where we will continue to make sure people will honor it appropriately,” Haley said on NBC’s “Today.” But, she said, the statehouse is an area "that belongs to everyone, and no one should drive by the statehouse and feel pain. No one should drive by the statehouse and feel like they don’t belong.”

RELATED: Here's the Powerful Speech That Helped Remove the Confederate Flag