One hundred and fifty years after the end of the US Civil War, New Orleans City Council is set to vote on whether to remove statues of what some people call pro-slavery “traitors” and others call “Confederate heroes.”
Thursday morning’s vote is expected to draw protesters from both sides and security has been increased.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu has been talking about having the symbols removed for about a year, but requested to officially topple the statues a week after the Charleston Church shooting in June.
The massacre caused national uproar over the so-called Confederate symbols across the country.
Landrieu says New Orleans wants to present itself as a city that values culture and diversity, and big places in the city need to be reserved for that.
He suggested the statues be moved to a more suitable space like a museum.
Legendary jazz musician Wynton Marsalis said that Virginian Robert E. Lee, commander of the “terrorist” Confederate army, in particular has no historic place in the city.
“This symbolic place in our city should represent a great New Orleanian, or it should be an open space that represents our latest prevail and how people helped us, not a person who had nothing to do with our city and who indeed fought against the United States of America and lost,” Marsalis told WDSU.
The New Orleans Police Department will have a strong presence in council chambers following last week’s discussion which led to at least four people being escorted from the meeting.
The statues are expected to be removed as the majority of city council members introduced the proposal at the mayor’s request.