In a statement on Thursday, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the condemned statues "were erected decades after the Civil War to celebrate the "Cult of the Lost Cause", a movement recognised across the South as celebrating and promoting white supremacy".
In 2015, New Orleans chose to take down the four monuments, and a USA appeals court ruled in March that it had the right to proceed. Workers dismantled the last three monuments in the cover of darkness, protecting themselves with masks and protective vests. The city expects the process to be finished and to reopen the streets around Lee Circle by 5 p.m. Some brought out lawn chairs to watch, entertained by a trumpeter who played "Dixie" but in a minor key.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu marked the historic moment with a rousing speech that sought to end almost two years of heated debate in the city over what the monuments said about its past. The local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued the city in an effort to block the plan, and in March a U.S. Court of Appeals found in favor of the city, clearing the path for removal.
And where the monuments once stood, public art and an American flag are among the pieces that will replace them. The Battle of Liberty Place obelisk, a marble monument that celebrates the 1874 uprising of a white supremacist militia against Louisiana's Reconstruction state government, came down in April.
But there remain hundreds of Confederate generals and soldiers on pedestals across America, their proud poses belying the savage system of slavery, rape and torture they fought, and sometimes died, to defend.
But doing away with them has met with staunch resistance from groups who argue the statues are nevertheless important symbols of the city's Southern heritage.
"It's not good to continue to revere a false version of history and put the Confederacy on a pedestal", Landrieu, who is white, said in an interview with The Associated Press.More news: Celtics' Thomas sits out 2nd half with right hip strain
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Statues and flags honoring the Confederacy have been removed from public spaces across the United States since 2015, after a white supremacist murdered nine black parishioners at a SC church.
Instead, perhaps these statues come to life and roam the streets, Godzilla-style, at night.
In 2015, the City Council voted 6-1 to remove the monuments after a succession of contentious public meetings. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/jessejholland or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jessejholland.
"It will be a New Orleans celebration today", Malcolm Suber, an adjunct professor at Southern University at New Orleans and organizer of Take 'Em Down NOLA, said cheerily Friday morning as he prepared to meet other activists at the landmark to hand out fliers.
"I can not believe that it's down", said a choked up Reverend Marie Galatas, a civil rights leader who was instrumental in the movement to remove the monuments.
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