NEW ORLEANS — Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration wrote a letter to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals asking for 24 hours advance notice before it releases a decision in the Confederate monument removal case.
City Attorney Rebecca Dietz is asking the court to provide a warning to the city once a decision is reached, citing concerns over violence and protests potentially affecting the ability of the city’s police force to properly protect the public.
Currently, the court is deliberating over the removal of three Confederate monuments as a lawsuit over their removal is being litigated. A U.S. District Court judge has already ruled in favor of the removal of a statue dedicated to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Lee Circle. The other monuments in question are those of Confederate commander P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
“The opposition to the removal of the Confederate monuments is made up of a variety of people,” Bill Quigley, Professor of Law at Loyola University in New Orleans, told the Louisiana Record. “Many are sincerely interested in historic preservation, including some who demonstrated their consistent passion when they worked to preserve public housing in New Orleans when it was slated for demolition.”
As the case has been tied up in the courts, multiple threats of violence and acts of vandalism have increased in regard to the monuments. Quigley said he feels the growing fervor is likely related to the results of the presidential election.
“Some people are dedicated to preserving the culture of the confederacy and what it stood for, including David Duke supporters,” Quigley said. “People who have threatened contractors and destroyed the automobile of one, and others who have threatened city officials and advocates for removal — I think this group is likely energized by the results of the election.”
The divisive issues surrounding the removal of the Confederate monuments began with a lawsuit filed last year on the heels of a City Council vote to remove the three monuments, citing the monuments have become a “public nuisance.” There were a few occasions of protesting and vandalism in Lee Circle last month, and a protest in Jackson Square in opposition to a visit from former KKK leader David Duke.
The group Take ‘Em Down NOLA, a group dedicated “to the removal of all monuments, school names, and street signs dedicated to White Supremacists,” has been actively handing out fliers and information about their petition to see to the removal of the monuments.
In regard to the city’s letter to the court about the 24 hour warning, city manager Dietz assured the public they are not requesting an advance copy of the outcome or decision itself, and stressed that the city just wants to be able to “marshal the resources needed” to respond to any protests or violence should they occur.
“I think whatever the Fifth Circuit decides will be national news as there are hundreds if not thousands of Confederate statues scattered across the country,” Quigley said. “That decision will make it clear what authority local governments have in making these decisions.”