Liberty Place Monument in New Orleans Gone

There were hints yesterday that the city of New Orleans would begin the process of removing four controversial monuments overnight. These rumors proved to be true. Over night workers removed the monument commemorating the battle of Liberty Place in 1874.

Media coverage references this monument as a Confederate monument, but it would be more accurate to understand it as commemorating a violent act of terrorism that took place in New Orleans in 1874. We would do well to acknowledge this as we make our way through the 150th anniversary of Reconstruction.

I suspect that the city intentionally chose to remove this one first before moving on to Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard. It doesn’t look like too many people were present at the Liberty Place site, which may reflect that it is the most controversial of the four. Most people who came out seem to have congregated at one of the other three monuments. Ultimately, the distinction between the Liberty Place monument and the other three is a difficult one to defend.

Once all four are removed it will represent the most complete and dramatic transformation of a major city’s commemorative landscape to the Confederacy and white supremacy that we have seen thus far.

22 comments… add one
  • David McCallister Apr 24, 2017

    First they came for the flags – but I didn’t like to wave a flag in public, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the speeches – but I didn’t like public speaking, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the letters to the editor – but I never wrote any, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the blogs – but I never surfed the internet, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the T-shirts, but it wasn’t my kid’s school, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the bumper stickers – but I didn’t want my job lost, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the stained glass windows – but it wasn’t my church, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the books – but I didn’t like to read, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the movies – but I didn’t go out, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the TV shows – but I didn’t watch reruns, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the reenactments – but I didn’t dress up, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the parades – but I didn’t like to march, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the meetings – but I wasn’t a member, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the holidays – but I didn’t get the day off, so I kept silent
    Then they came for the gravestones – but it wasn’t my family, so I kept silent.
    Then they came for the statues – but it wasn’t from my town square, so I kept silent.

    Then, they came for me – and no one spoke out.

    • Kevin Levin Apr 24, 2017

      Hi David,

      I can’t tell if this is serious, but thanks for sharing.

    • Neil Hamilton Apr 24, 2017

      Then I woke up and had to face reality. No one was coming for me and I let people know how disappointed I was by making bad copies of serious poems.

      • Kristoffer Apr 24, 2017

        You got that right.

      • Bryan Cheeseboro May 1, 2017

        I say just save time and come for that guy first. All the other stuff can wait.

    • B Thomas Apr 24, 2017

      This guy has a really good point. The first thing Hitler did when he came to power was to remove white supremacy from the public spaces.

      (That was sarcasm)

      Also it is weird the last thing “they came for” was statues when statues are the second thing to go, right behind flags. And no one “came for” them. People in those communities wanted them gone and the will of the people was/is being done

    • Forester Apr 24, 2017

      Paraphrasing Martin Niemöller. How breathtakingly original.

      This kind of appropriation is offensive, vile, and just plain evil. Comparing a statue being moved to the Holocaust is a disgusting hyperbole.

      My uncle died in that war, on Christmas Eve no less, while his wife and family waited at home. His mother was thrown into shock when his Christmas ham and fruitcake package returned unopened, and she died of leukemia a few days after finding out that her son was dead. They said she just lost the will to live. Even decades later, my grandfather could never be happy on Christmas because of the bad memories.

      World War II was a real, tangible human event, not your all-purpose rhetorical weapon. You’re trivializing actual human suffering, and that pisses me off. Your mama should’ve raised you better.

    • Shoshana Bee Apr 25, 2017

      Well, David, your ability to trivialize words of the Holocaust suggests to me that you and your ancestors have been spared the scars rendered of the ravages of genocide. I am envious.

  • Bryce Hartranft Apr 24, 2017

    I enjoyed the “our history is not a game of Jenga” comment.

  • Rob Baker Apr 24, 2017

    Media coverage references this monument as a Confederate monument, but it would be more accurate to understand it as commemorating a violent act of terrorism that took place in New Orleans in 1874.

    I definitely agree with this statement – I think there are many that do not draw that distinction when coming to terms with the community’s power and right to alter their commemorative landscape for better or for worse. Of course, one might argue that this monument is as Confederate as they come give the event commemorated.

  • Forester Apr 24, 2017

    Well, you’ve educated me today. I had never even heard of the Battle of Liberty Place.

    I can see why this monument is problematic, but I also think it should be considered separate from the Confederate monuments. The incident was a decade after the Civil War, with a third of the men being 20-somethings who came of age in Reconstruction. Longstreet was on the government side. The Liberty Place monument is a totally different thing, in my opinion.

    But I doubt this distinction will be made …. the CS monuments are definitely going down next. I wonder where they’ll end up? They should still be displayed SOMEWHERE, or at least archived in storage somewhere.

    • Kevin Levin Apr 24, 2017

      I agree that a distinction needs to be made to monuments that commemorate Confederate leaders and the Confederacy with those that commemorate Reconstruction. However, these monuments are part of the same narrative. The Liberty Place monument commemorates an attempt to return to the antebellum racial status quo, which the Confederacy failed to protect.

      • Forester Apr 24, 2017

        They are part of the same narrative, but no one was ever drafted into insurrection mobs.

        Soldiering for an illegitimate government is still soldiering for a government. But one can’t claim “loyalty to my home state” as a motivation when they’re fighting against Louisiana itself.

  • C. Meyer Apr 24, 2017

    The comments on the video’s YouTube page are quite predictable.

    • Andy Hall Apr 24, 2017

      I believe there have been more Facebook memes posted today in protest of this removal then there were actual protesters there.

  • Julian Apr 25, 2017

    Yes technically this is not a memorial to Civil War combatants, so it is not disrespecting the memory of war dead to remove it. It is the monument with the most diffused links to the Civil War and is clearly nothing about the other and now discounted narratives of taxes or autonomy of governance, and reflects postwar racial divisions that paved the way for Jim Crow laws that have had a more direct impact on modern social structures and are more egreariously offensive if one could have a sacrificial gesture, this is the best one to make the gesture with, as I think people do not have any real sense of emotional linkage to the Liberty Place Event on a national and global scale.

    However it also had been amended to name the New Orleans citizens of various races who died defending the civic authorities in 1874, and their presence has been removed from the public eye … surely they should too be commemorated in a high profiled place in the city.

  • Julian Apr 25, 2017

    http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2017/04/is_so_much_secrecy_needed_to_t.html

    this is also an interesting overview – with this statement that responds to Mitch Landrieu’s comments about a “a clear and unequivocal message ” on diversity sent nationally and intetrnationally
    “I’m not sure what kind of message the rest of the world receives in the images of monuments being dismantled in darkness by masked men. And many missed the chance to celebrate our diversity, inclusion, and tolerance at 2 a.m. We can only trust that our government officials are taking the appropriate steps because they have told us they are.”

    • Andy Hall Apr 25, 2017

      “I’m not sure what kind of message the rest of the world receives in the images of monuments being dismantled in darkness by masked men. And many missed the chance to celebrate our diversity, inclusion, and tolerance at 2 a.m.”

      The original contractor slated to do this work received death threats, and had an expensive car of his torched at his place of business. “Heritage” supporters have expressed a willingness to use deadly force against someone who might tag a monument in Richmond, once loudly took credit for using an electric cattle prod to protect a monument in what proved to be a completely fabricated story, and made all sorts of violent threats about the woman who took down the flag in Columbia a couple of years ago.

      The heritage folks want to be taken seriously, and that’s just what NOLA did in this case.

  • andersonh1 Apr 25, 2017

    B Thomas said “People in those communities wanted them gone and the will of the people was/is being done”

    Is it? A poll from a year and a half ago would indicate otherwise: http://www.wwltv.com/news/wwl-tv_advocate-poll-majority-oppose-removing-confederate-monuments/152701680

    Statewide poll (about 1:13 into the video)
    Oppose removal – 68%
    Favor removal – 18%

    Metro New Orleans (about 1:25 into the video)
    Oppose removal – 64%
    Favor removal – 18%

    If this is still accurate, what the majority want is being ignored. The other poll I’ve seen, from April of last year, has similar findings: http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/04/confederate_monuments.html

    “But LSU’s survey shows 73 percent of Louisiana resident oppose monuments being removed. The scales are even more tilted among the white community. Eighty-eight percent of white people surveyed oppose Confederate monument removal. Just eight percent of white people polled supported taking them down.

    The LSU survey also found that more African Americans opposed monument removal, 47 percent, than supported it, 40 percent. The margin of error for the whole poll is 3.1 percentage points. ”

    To sum it up, I’m unconvinced that the will of the majority is being carried out here.

  • Julian May 5, 2017

    I was wondering whether this was a parody, true or fake news but googling suggests that the Hayride is ” Louisiana’s premier conservative political commentary site” so I assume it’s ad hominen and going for the jugular perhaps the family history is driving his dedication to removing the monuments or is it the more recent history of his father Moon desegregating the city … http://thehayride.com/2017/05/batiste-mitch-landrieu-exposed-secret-property-white-supremacy-staff-affair/

    • Andy Hall May 6, 2017

      Please. This is Louisiana we’re talking about, the state that gave us Huey Long, Earl Long, David Duke, and Edwin Edwards.

      Even if all those things ARE true, Landrieu’s a piker.

      • Julian May 7, 2017

        And of course Huey Long inspired All the Kings Men is often considered to be the inspiration for All the Kings Men, one the classic literary intepretations of the mid 20th century South, a novel that includes a diversion about personal responsibility and the Civil War, which is suppsedly the narrator’s PhD topic

Leave a Comment