A statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis was dismantled in New Orleans early on Thursday, the second of four monuments slated to be taken down by the city where critics say the displays glorify the era of slavery in the U.S. south.
Police watched supporters of the statue’s removal – which was ordered by the city’s mayor – and pro-monument Confederate-flag waving protesters taunt each other as crews nearby used a crane to remove the 8-foot bronze statue from its granite pedestal that has sat in Mid-city New Orleans for more than a century.
“I am here to witness this debacle, taking down this 106-year-old beautiful monument,” said Pierre McGraw, president of the Monumental Task Committee. “It hurts a lot.”
Symbols of the Confederate period such as monuments and flags have been removed from civic centers across the United States over the last two years following criticism that the displays foster racism.
Quess Moore said he came out to watch the monument be taken down “to celebrate the victory in the battle against white supremacy particularly in New Orleans.”
The Jefferson Davis Monument was frequently vandalized according to the New Orleans Historical website that showed a photo with the words “slave owner” sprayed in red paint on the base of the monument.
The monument will be stored in a city warehouse until a permanent location can be determined, according to organization.
The Jefferson Davis Monument is one of four monuments that critics have been pushing to have dismantled in New Orleans. In 2015, the city decide to remove them and in March, a U.S. appeals court ruled that city had the right to proceed.
The first of the monuments was removed last month, with the aim of relocating it elsewhere. At that time, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the removals would send a message of “diversity, inclusion and tolerance.”
A New Orleans preservationist on Monday sued to stop the city from removing a statue of a Confederate States Army General P.G.T. Beauregard. The lawsuit, filed by Richard Marksbury in Orleans Parish Civil District Court, says the city cannot legally take down the statue of because it does not own the memorial or the land it’s on.
On Sunday, supporters of the monuments, some waving Confederate flags, clashed with demonstrators near the site of a statue honoring Confederate General Robert E. Lee that is also slated for removal.
(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Toby Chopra)