NEW ORLEANS — Authorities took down a bronze Confederate-era equestrian statue of Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard early Wednesday. It was the third of four such monuments to be removed in the city.
Police began moving pro-monument supporters away from the statue at the entrance to City Park on Tuesday evening in preparation for its removal.
A short time later massive spotlights, large cranes and a big work crew showed up at the scene to repeat the drill done twice before, preparing the monument to be taken down.
There were strong views from those watching the removal on both sides of the debate.
"When I was a little girl the statue was something fun that I drove by on my way to school," said Janet Rupert, a supporter of removing the monuments. "Learning more about the history of what it really represents, more than just it’s a work of art, it’s a statue, the reasons why it was put up in the first place, I think it’s time to take them down."
Some said regardless of what the statue represents, it's a work of art.
"To me, they are a historic landmark in the city, like a placeholder that has survived countless hurricanes," said a man who only identified himself as George. "That statue is 106 years old. Usually, in New Orleans, we’re really sad when we see a family restaurant of 50 years go. This is double that."
Others felt the city has bigger problems that Mayor Mitch Landrieu is ignoring.
"Today we take another step in defining our City not by our past but by our bright future," said Landrieu in a statement issued Tuesday night. "While we must honor our history, we will not allow the Confederacy to be put on a pedestal in the heart of New Orleans."
Last minute appeals — the vocal kind — were made Tuesday by members of the Monumental Task Committee, apparently to no avail. City Park issued a statement Tuesday evening saying that it doesn't have any information indicating that it owns the statue, rather than the city.
The Beauregard statue was the third of four Confederate monuments Landrieu has vowed to remove. Previously taken down were the Battle of Liberty Place monument and a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Still awaiting removal is the statue of Robert E. Lee, whose likeness stands atop a column in the center of Lee Circle.
Each removal has drawn protests from those who have sought to keep the monuments in place, with several people standing vigil at the Davis statue and waving Confederate battle flags even as a crane lifted it off its pedestal.
Most recently, the Monumental Task Committee launched a long-shot legal battle in an effort to save the Beauregard statue.
The group claimed the City Park Improvement Association owns the statue, not the city. A Civil District Court judge refused to issue an injunction to stop the impending removal, leading monument advocates to seek a temporary restraining order.
The Beauregard monument was unveiled to a 17-gun salute on Nov. 11, 1915, by Hilda Beauregard, a granddaughter of the Confederate general, according to a report in The Times-Picayune the next morning.
Beauregard commanded the attack at Fort Sumter, S.C., that marked the outbreak of the Civil War. His statue sat at a traffic circle near the entrance to New Orleans City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Although the equestrian statue has been removed, the base will not be removed at this time, said Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni. It is unclear when, or if, the base will be removed. Police said Beauregard's name would be removed from the base.
Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter: @DCMonteverde
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