Workers removed another high-profile Confederate monument in New Orleans overnight, lifting a statue of Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard on horseback from its spot at the entrance of City Park. One more statue remains to be taken down, of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
It took more than six hours for workers to remove the bronze statue of Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, which is believed to weigh more than 12,000 pounds. Standing on a granite base, the statue's highest point was 27 feet from the ground. It was dedicated in 1915 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
The statue at the main entrance to the 1,300-acre City Park is one of four that the City Council and Mayor Mitch Landrieu have targeted for removal in an attempt to put post-Civil War divisions to rest.
"While we must honor our history, we will not allow the Confederacy to be put on a pedestal in the heart of New Orleans," Landrieu said as the latest statue was being removed. "As we near our City's 300th anniversary, we must continue to find courage to stand up to hate and embrace justice and compassion."
While the goal of the removal process is unity, for now at least, it's highlighting divisions in New Orleans. The plan to take down high-profile post-Civil War monuments has sparked legal challenges and demonstrations, both in favor and against the monuments.
"It's like thieves in the night: 'Oh let's take it down in the middle of the night,'" protester Karen Murray tells reporter Laine Kaplan-Levenson of member station WWNO. "You know, who takes things down in the middle of the night?"
Crews have now taken three statues down — the first two were monuments to Jefferson Davis and a Reconstruction-era clash. Officials say safety concerns are the reason all of the work so far has been carried out in darkness. Contractors performing the work have covered identifying marks on their equipment.
Also watching last night's removal, which started late Tuesday and ended just after 3 a.m. local time Wednesday, was famed New Orleans musician Terence Blanchard, who came to see what he called a "historic moment" with his wife and daughters, as The Times-Picayune reports.
Blanchard tells the paper he went to high school near the park, and that he always found monuments like the one to Beauregard to be unsettling.
"This is something I never thought I'd see in my lifetime," he tells the Times-Picayune. "It's a sign that the world is changing."