NEW ORLEANS -- A Louisiana man has expressed concerns about a ruling by federal judge Carl Barbier that his lawsuit was an "empty gesture," because he sought the removal of a statue of Andrew Jackson from New Orlean's Jackson Square when in actuality, he opposed the removal of any statues.
Barbier ruled in favor of the city of New Orleans and against Rick Marksbury because he felt his case was an attempt to, “place the mayor and city council in a quandary.” However, other supporters of taking down confederate monuments have embraced Marksbury’s issue and called for Jackson’s statue removal. Others who are in favor of the confederate monuments have challenged the city’s move in federal court. Barbier’s ruling is currently being weighed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“(Regarding the) southerners who ‘feel’ a real connection to these statues and cultural heritage they represent; do we ignore the ‘feelings’ of those who want them to remain, but take them down on the ‘feelings’ of those who don’t want them to remain?” Marksbury said. “Simply put, I don’t believe in destroying cultural heritage. Add to it, but don’t destroy. Education is the key; not (killing culture).”
Marksbury also argued he’d been treated unfairly because he didn’t receive a hearing before the full city council on the issue. Instead, he was given a hearing in front of a council committee.
Marksbury said he felt he was treated unfairly in regards to the hearing, because in July 2015, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu appeared before the city council to invoke the ordinance procedures to have statues of confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard, confederate president Jefferson Davis and a monument honoring those who tried to topple a bi-racial post-Civil War government in New Orleans removed.
The city council made a decision on how to proceed. When Marksbury made the same proposal with regard to the Andrew Jackson statue, the council decided to pursue a different course of action.
“At the very least, its decision was illogical and irrational,” Marksbury told the Louisiana Record. “They had just decided how to proceed when the mayor made a proposal and then went down a different road when I made the same request. I was treated unfairly (because) I caught the mayor in his duplicity and he knows it, and he garnered support from those who are loyal to him and from those he appointed. He’s not interested in enforcing the nuisance ordinance; he simply wanted to cherry pick its enforcement to enhance his future political options.”
The case to remove the statues and monument started last year after what police said was a white supremacist’s murder of nine parishioners at the African-American Church in Charleston, South Caroline. New Orleans then urged for, and the council approved, the removal of the four monuments.
Marksbury’s argument for stopping the removal is it would set a precedent to remove other New Orleans icons that honor controversial figures.
“Where do we stop if we govern by feelings?” Marksbury said. “Do we rename Roosevelt Place in City Park because Japanese-Americans feel badly when they drive down the street recalling what (President) Roosevelt did to Japanese-Americans? (Coalition) Take ‘Em Down NOLA has clearly stated its intentions to have Andrew Jackson removed; why is the mayor silent on this? Because removing the confederate statues would get him votes, removing the Jackson statues would affect his legacy negatively. (Jackson) was an acknowledged white supremacist and called himself, ‘Indian Killer.’”