A new wrinkle in the removal of a Confederate-era monument in New Orleans

We previously discussed how the first of four Confederate era monuments in New Orleans had been torn down in the middle of the night by anonymous contractors and municipal workers wearing body armor and face masks to hide their identity. There are three more slated for removal, but at least one of them has run into a legal challenge which may gum up the operation. The statue of Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard is supposed to be removed and it sits on city property, but some research has shown that it doesn’t actually belong to the city. A group opposing the removal of the monuments has taken their findings to court and now a question mark hangs over the entire procedure. (Associated Press)

Supporters of Confederate-era monuments slated for removal in New Orleans launched a new court fight Monday to save one of them.

A statue of Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard on horseback is at the main entrance to New Orleans City Park. Monument supporters say their research shows the statue is not owned by the city, but by the City Park Improvement Association. That agency is part of the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, overseen by Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser.

Monument supporter Richard Marksbury said Monday that he’s filed a lawsuit in state court to prevent the statue’s removal. In a related development, Nungesser released a letter to the president of the improvement association, Steven Pettus, saying Pettus should object to the removal of the statue.

The judge hearing the case declined to issue an immediate injunction but has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday morning. That doesn’t seem terribly satisfactory because at this point there doesn’t seem to be anything preventing the Mayor from sending out his crew around midnight tonight to tear it down anyway. If there was enough of a question over the ownership of the monument to warrant a hearing, why not issue the injunction? The statues have been there since before most of the grandparents of the players involved here were born. A couple more days isn’t going to kill anyone.

The underlying legal question may not fall the way the defenders of the monuments hope, however. Even if they can prove that the statue itself is the property of the City Park Improvement Association, the park property where it’s sitting still belongs to the city. They may not be able to destroy the statue, but it sounds as of they could still remove it to a warehouse and tell the association to pick it up at their convenience and take it to private land. And that’s probably the most likely fate of all of these monuments, given the current mood running through the liberal municipal leadership.

The supporters of the monuments seem to be hoping to drag in some help from the state level on this, but I’m not sure how far that will get either. The association in question is headed up by the Lt. Governor and Billy Nungesser does happen to be a Republican. But the Governor, John Bel Edwards, is a Democrat and would probably side with the Mayor in having it removed. Are those two really going to go to war over this statue at this point? It seems unlikely.

Democrats continue to succeed in their attempts to tear down the history of the South as if none of it ever happened. We can expect that to continue into the foreseeable future. In the meantime, somebody will need to find private land to house these monuments unless, as I mentioned above, an appropriate museum can be found to display them.