NEW ORLEANS – Police began moving pro-monument supporters away from the bronze equestrian statue of Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard at the entrance to City Park shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday in preparation for its removal.
"Today we take another step in defining our City not by our past but by our bright future," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a statement issued Tuesday around 8:30 p.m. "While we must honor our history, we will not allow the Confederacy to be put on a pedestal in the heart of New Orleans."
Landrieu also said that the removal would cause some traffic issues with the following street closures: Moss Street between Desaix Boulevard and Esplanade Avenue and North Carrolton Avenue between Esplanade Avenue, and City Park Avenue will be closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Last minute appeals - the vocal kind and not the legal one - 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.
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The Beauregard statue was the third of four Confederate monuments Mayor Mitch 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 seek a temporary restraining order from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.
The Beauregard monument was unveiled to a 17-gun salute the afternoon of Nov. 11, 1915, by Hilda Beauregard, a granddaughter of the Confederate general, according to a report in The Times-Picayune the next morning.
The monument was shown off for the first time to a crowd of hundreds – most being relatives of Confederate veterans -- during closing ceremonies for the annual convention and reunion of the Louisiana Division of United Confederate Veterans, The Picayune reported.
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The Beauregard Monument Association built the statue.
Many in the crowd at the unveiling wore grey and took off their hats when a band played “Dixie” and “The Bonnie Blue Flag,” a marching song often associated with the confederacy.
After the unveiling, a crowd of Confederate veterans circled the statue two or three times as strains of “America” and “Dixie” filled the air.