Police snipers had to be assigned to thwart threats of violence made against construction workers who were assigned the task of removing confederate monuments throughout New Orleans. Although New Orleans is not one of the many cities that celebrates Confederate Memorial Day, the timing of the removal and intimidation from dissenters were deemed ominous enough to warrant increased protection. The decision to remove the statues has been widely considered controversial.
Both supporters and protestors were nearby amidst an increased police presence as construction workers gathered at The Battle of Liberty Place monument, which was erected in 1891 to honor a battle fought over mixed-race militias, to deconstruct the obelisk this morning. Deconstruction began at 2:15am. According to CNN, a legal battle had proceeded to the decision to finally remove the statues.
"This is about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile -- and most importantly -- choose a better future," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
"This should be a celebration but instead this is done clandestinely. They got the workers who are taking it down dressed in black jackets, helmets and their faces are covered, to us that's cowardice," said an onlooker.
Contractors had received violent threats pertaining to the removal of the public statuary, presumably from "Southern heritage" advocates. According to Nola.com, at least one contractor had dropped out of the job due to threats, which included the discovery of a burned $200,000 Lamborghini. The city has kept quiet about the name of the contractor ultimately assigned to the job.
The Battle of Liberty Place monument is the first of four to be removed.
[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]