Judge rules New Orleans has right to remove Confederate statue after private citizen filed suit

By Tricia Erickson | May 16, 2017


NEW ORLEANS — A monument supporter filed suit against the City of New Orleans last week claiming the city did not have the right to remove the statue of Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard from New Orleans City Park.

The judge rejected Richard Marksbury's request for an immediate, temporary order blocking the removal of the statue.

“His allegation was that we don’t own the piece of property where Beauregard sits, and therefore, we don’t own the statue,” Rebecca Dietz, city attorney for New Orleans, told the Louisiana Record.

Marksbury also claimed the state owned the property, and that state law stipulates that a permit is required from the Louisiana Archaeological Survey and Antiquities Commission.

“His allegation is that that state law allows an individual citizen to file suit against any person or municipality that attempts to recover an archeological artifact without a permit,” Dietz said. “His claim was that the city, through removing and or potentially damaging the Beauregard monument, we are disturbing or impacting a[n] archeological artifact, and we didn’t get a permit from the state and therefore the whole thing should be stopped.”

Later in the week, Judge Kern Reese decided in favor of the city, ruling that the plaintiff did not provide evidence that the state owned the property. The judge also dismissed the claim that a permit was needed to remove the state.

“The court went on to say was that case law has established that the city own city park land,” Dietz said. “The City Park Improvement Association manages the land essentially for the benefit of the city, but the actual land is owned by the city and therefore we have the right to remove the monument on top of it.”

The city had not received a notice of appeal, according to Dietz. If Marksbury does not appeal, the city has no lingering litigation preventing it from removing the monument. The mayor’s office has not announced the timeline for removal.

The Beauregard statue is one of four statues the city has decided to remove. The Liberty Place monument has already been removed. The other two statues are of Gen. Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

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