The New Orleans City Council voted Thursday to remove prominent Confederate monuments from locations around the city.
Following a 6-1 vote, four monuments, including a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at the center of a traffic circle, will be taken down.
City Council President Jason Williams said voting to take down the monuments is a representation of the severing of an “umbilical cord” that linked the city to the legacy of Confederacy. Williams, who is African-American, said, “If anybody wins here, it will be the South, because it is finally rising.”
Yahoo News reports that Stacy Head, one of two white council members, was the only person who voted against taking down the monuments. According to her, “destroying public sculptures … is not going to bring real healing.” She said that rectifying historic injustice is “a lot harder work than removing monuments,” adding, “I think all we will be left with is pain and division.”
Taking down the monuments has been called for by civil rights activists since decades. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu urged the removal following the shooting at the Emmanuel Church in Charleston, S.C., in June this year. Soon after the massacre, pictures of the gunman posing with a Confederate flag began circulating.
Landrieu said the vote is “a courageous decision to turn a page on our divisive past and chart the course for a more inclusive future. Symbols matter and should reflect who we are as a people.”
Rev. Shawn Anglim, a Methodist pastor who supported the removal, requested those gathered Thursday to “do the right thing.” He added, “Do it for our children, and our children’s children.”
Activist Malcolm Suber said the monuments were “products of the Jim Crow era, an era when blacks were hunted and persecuted.”
According to NPR, after being taken down, the monuments will be stored in a warehouse until a new location – a park or museum – is planned where they can be displayed.
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