Court Approves Removal of Confederate Monuments

The long-running battle over the removal of three monuments to Confederate heroes has apparently ended with a court ruling that they may be taken down from their public sites in New Orleans.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has issued the unanimous ruling.  The court found that the arguments advanced by those trying to save the monuments to Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and General P.G.T. Beauregard, lacked "legal viability or support."

The city says it plans to start seeking bids to remove the statues and that a contract should be awarded with 25 days.

The campaign to remove the monuments was led by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.  At his urging, the City Council voted 6-1 in December 2015 to declare the monuments public nuisances.

Landrieu says the removal of the monuments will be funded by an anonymous donor and that the statues will be placed in storage until "an appropriate place to display them is determined."

The Mayor lauded the court's decision.

"This win today will allow us to begin to turn a page on our divisive past and chart the course for a more inclusive future. Moving the location of these monuments—from prominent public places in our city where they are revered to a place where they can be remembered—changes only their geography, not our history. Symbols matter and should reflect who we are as a people. These monuments do not now, nor have they ever reflected the history, the strength, the richness, the diversity or the soul of New Orleans," Landrieu said in a statement released by his office.

Landrieu says the city will also now begin the legal process necessary to remove the Liberty Place monument, which is currently subject to a federal court order.  That monument to a rebellion against Reconstruction-era government has been protected by a separate federal consent decree.

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