New Orleans set to remove Robert E. Lee statue

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The last one set to come down is of General Robert E. Lee. We understand there are strong emotions surrounding this subject, and we ask that the public remain peaceful and respectful while demonstrating. The issue rose to prominence after the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a self-described white supremacist. That recharged the debate over whether Confederate emblems represent racism or an honorable heritage.

The Monumental Task Committee, in perhaps its most strongly-worded statement since the removal of the statues began, said the statue was of perhaps the most historically-significant Creole who ever lived.

The workers who removed the statue wore masks to hide their identities, just as they did when they removed Jefferson Davis last week and the Liberty Place monument in April.

Backlash against removing Confederate monuments in the city has been building.

The first monument removed of David Beauregard was recently found in a maintenance yard next to trash.

The Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Circle was erected in 1884 in honor of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate General for the Army of Northern Virginia, at the site formerly known as "Tivoli Circle".

Die-hard monument supporters say the removal was an affront to history.

Friday's removal - in daylight, with the timing announced a day beforehand - contrasts with the first three, which happened in the dark of night or early morning with little notice. The statue was the third out of four Confederate statues that was slated for removal in the city.

Instead they said, "To ensure the safety of residents, contractors, and the community at large during the monument removal process, City personnel took place in public safety and homeland security operations".

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Later Wednesday police say they arrested a father and son for allegedly spray-painting the statue's base with the words "Gen. Beauregard CSA".

Protesters gather before a monument of Jefferson Davis is removed in New Orleans, Louisiana, May 11, 2017.

According to Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni, the base of the statue will not be removed at this time.

This event is invitation only, and NOT open to the public. There will be nothing put in the place of the monument to the Battle of Liberty Place.

The city will begin a competitive RFP process to decide where the statues will eventually go.

City officials have already removed a statue of Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy's only president, and a memorial to a white rebellion against a biracial Reconstruction-era government in the city.

The Beauregard statue was the third of four Confederate monuments Landrieu has vowed to remove. The statue came down just after 3 a.m.

"I think that would be a win-win for both the city of New Orleans being the donor of those statues here to us and certainly a win for us", he expressed concern.

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