LIVE BLOG: The New Orleans Historical Monument Meeting

This is the live blog of the New Orleans City Council’s meeting on four historical monuments in the city which Mayor Mitch Landrieu wants to remove.

Follow this live coverage for updates with context on what’s happening at the New Orleans City Council meeting.

Update at 7:25 pm: Speakers are starting to wind down and so am I. I’m going for dinner and beer and will be back in a few hours to see how the local media has portrayed the meeting. Thanks for tuning in folks!

Update at 7:17 pm: Same speakers now speaking again. Meeting seems to be wrapping up.

Update at 7:15 pm: Speaker going after Latoya Cantrell saying she would never vote for her and says she is shaming her ancestors for opposing monument removal.

Another speaker now attacking Councilwoman Cantrell, who is apparently not in the room at the moment. Stand With Dignity members obviously very upset with Cantrell over her opposition to removal.

Update at 7:00 pm: Speakers, like I wrote before, are sounding the same. Slavery, history, art, monuments all being talked about. Last speaker, however, said he didn’t know why opposition was calling Latoya Cantrell “Cantell,” said that he “thinks she’s a nice lady.”

Current speaker is saying that young girl who spoke would’ve been raped and beaten by “white men” if she were a young black girl back during the Confederacy. Says you can’t deal with crime until you take down the monuments.

Crowd seems to be getting tired. Applause is getting quieter and quieter.

Update at 6:47 pm: Now speaking is the leader of Take Em Down Nola, a group that wants numerous monuments in the city removed from the public square. Speaker is scolding Cantrell for her opposition to removing the monuments. Says there is a movement in the city that wants the monuments removed. Speaker seems to be directly speaking to Cantrell, referencing that she is “bought off.” Says that the monuments are directly related to black men not having jobs in the city. Again, calls Cantrell out by name.

Update at 6:38 pm: Again, a lot of the speakers are sounding the same. Almost every argument has been made for and against the monuments.

Update at 6:32 pm: Woman speaking now is someone I’ve spoken to personally. She is referring to my reporting of the Stand With Dignity group which was present when the Liberty monument was vandalized with fake blood.

Resident speaking now says Landrieu’s proposal is a “knee-jerk” reaction and says there are no detailed plans. Says the statues have become a nuisance because the people defacing monuments are the same ones who want monuments removed.

Update at 6:25 pm: Speaker is getting heckled for saying “oppression” is when a tourist comes to New Orleans and gets killed. Anti-monuments supporters heckled the man afterwards. Meeting has to stop to get quiet. Cantrell asks for quiet. Crowd is still yelling and screaming. Speaker says this is all about politics for Landrieu.

Woman speaking now is very emotional. She is speaking about times back in the 1960’s when blacks were seen as a second-class. Says we can’t let “bigots” control the conversation. Can’t exactly follow what she is speaking about. Apologies.

Update at 6:15 pm: Speaker now very loud scolding Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell for supporting monuments. Just said something about how there are no black New Orleans men with cowboy hats on. Can’t follow what he is saying.  Just received loud applause.

Conservative talk show host George Peterson now speaking. Says that the problem is that New Orleans has become a divided city. Says division has not been present until Landrieu made this proposal. Says monuments have violence at them only after Landrieu requested the monuments be removed.

Update at 6:08 pm: Speakers are beginning to all say the same things. Pro-monument speakers say these monuments are historical artifacts, part of New Orleans and pieces of art.

Anti-monument speakers are saying the monuments are symbols of hatred, racism and white supremacy.

Update at 6:05 pm: New speaker is a black, female resident of the city that wants monuments removed because they represent “pedophiles” and “rapists.” She scolded Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell for not wanting monuments removed.

This is now the fifth religious figure that is speaking on behalf of residents who want monuments removed from the public square. Brings up the time of inequality between whites and blacks. Says the statues represent traitors to the country.

Update at 6:00 pm: Next speaker is another pastor from the religious community. This is the fourth religious speaker that is speaking on behalf of those who want the monuments removed. Says Lee Circle has changed before, so City Council should change it again. Says monuments convey white power, not history.

Just an unrelated side note, there is a woman sitting just behind the speaker podium with quite a fabulous head wrap stacked very high.

New resident speaker says she thinks history matters too, but wants the monuments to come down. She wants monuments to examine the history of slavery.

Update at 5:55 pm: Residents says city can do two things at once. Says statues represent racism and that symbol to keep monuments up is also symbolic about the intolerance of the city. Receives lots of cheers from crowd.

Next speaker is liberal attorney Bill Quigley. Quigley is a major supporter of many Democrats throughout the state. Says America is founded upon human rights violations like slavery. Says monuments are a nuisance, doesn’t say why. Says the people who support monuments are nuisances as well. Says the country has a racist past. Time runs out for Quigley.

Another speaker up now saying that removing monuments is like removing art from the city. Says these monuments are the works of artists and they are used in art installations throughout the city. Says removing monuments is a vote to remove art from the history of New Orleans.

Update at 5:50 pm: Resident of New Orleans speaking now is an artist and sculptor. Says the artistic value is under-represented and the monuments’ value for their art is just as important as their history.

Historic preservationist with the National Trust speaking now says monuments help reflect a fuller understanding of history and to not forget what happened during the war.

Executive Director of Louisiana Landmark Association now speaking. Says these monuments need to be handled with “balance” and the monuments should be preserved because they are historic landmarks about how people rightly or wrongly conducted themselves and their values. Says that you can “change the name but can’t change the history.” Says we are having the wrong conversation and that we should be adding to monuments.

New speaker says “symbolic” fixes do not fix real problems. Says this is not a real action, purely symbolic.

Update at 5:41 pm: Meeting is almost entirely compromised so far of Save Our Circle members or pro-monument supporters. Only a handful of anti-monument speakers. Resident speaking now is an award-winning historian who says that the monuments should absolutely be preserved.

Now speaking is another religious leader saying the monuments represent traitors. Compares Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis to San Bernardino Islamic terrorist. This is the third religious speaker speaking for removing monuments tonight. Also just called the monuments “trash,” gets a huge applause.

Update at 5:33 pm: Speakers opens with statement about how the past cannot be replaced. Says city is a museum. Goes after Landrieu himself for wanting to remove the history of the city. Goes off on speech about how incredible New Orleans is. Says the city cannot be matched by no other place on earth. Says Landrieu has divided the citizens of the city with the issue. Says she wants interpretive plaques constructed onto each of the monuments. Ends with “we are more alike than we are different.”

Member of Save Our Circle Jonathan Maki now speaking. Says Landrieu’s plan was a planned political agenda from the beginning. Maki says that New Orleans is a museum and it needs to be protected. Says monuments are lessons of history.

Update at 5:23 pm: Pro-monument speaker, an black woman, heckled for representing family in New Orleans area, because she is from Oklahoma. Says her family was born into the Confederacy, but she wants to respect the dead. Says more time should be put into black historical sites. Councilman just screamed at hecklers “Please! We’re better than this!”

Next speaker says City Council should represent everyone and acknowledge that are history is bad. Wants to save all monuments in the city, says to vote independently.

Speaker reads letter about how Lt. Gov-elect Billy Nungesser wants a study to see about the economic impact of tearing down monuments.

Update at 5:18 pm: Libertarian Party of New Orleans representative saying she is on behalf of Libertarians who are pro-preserving the monuments. Says plaque should be created to make it clear that New Orleans does not condone slavery.

Anti-monument speaker now getting very emotional. Says Lee Circle should be replaced with monument of Holocaust. Says all the monuments are no different than German dictator and slaughterer Hitler. Speakers time is up but she continues to keep yelling her proposal.

Update at 5:13 pm: Leader of the Monumental Task Committee now speaking. His organization cleans up monuments with no cost to taxpayers. Says his organization was never asked what their opinions were on the issue, even though they are the ones that keep the monuments up. Says he is very concerned about the lack of information on the process of removal. Seems to be inciting my Hayride reporting about contractors already hired and warehouse space already in place to store these monuments. Asks that further meetings be held about answers to all of the questions that remain.

Lifelong resident of New Orleans and preservation historian says the process of Mayor Landrieu’s administration remove the monuments is like nothing he’s ever seen before.

Update at 5:04 pm: Young teenage girl now speaking to City Council about how monuments are not “pointless symbols” and saying that they were hope after Hurricane Katrina for residents to see the city still standing. Gets a huge applause.

Resident saying this is not a top ten issue of the city. Anti-monument residents heckling speaker. He’s the second speaker who has said that the issue is a Pandora’s box.

Update at 4:58 pm: Residents speaking are largely pro-monuments. Many residents saying the issue should go to a vote of the people.

Update at 4:52 pm: Rev. says the monuments are symbols of white supremacy. This is the second religious leader who is demanding the monuments come down. Says issue will keep coming around until the City Council tears down the monuments.

Now a life-long resident of New Orleans says he wants to thank Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell for taking a stance against removing the monuments. The Hayride first reported that information last week and Cantrell confirmed it yesterday.

Update at 4:49 pm: Resident flips off crowd and gets escorted out of meeting. The room is testy and Councilman Jason Williams says the meeting was in an effort to hear everybody on every side. He says meeting has to move forward without heckling people.

Update at 4:45 pm: Speakers were told ahead of time that they would have 4 minutes. Rules changed at meeting to 2 minutes. Councilwoman Stacy Head says her office confirmed to residents that they would have 4 minutes and rules should not be changed. Speakers who called ahead will have 4 minutes to speak.

Pro-removal residents heckling pro-monument supporters. Shouting out loudly over speakers.

Update at 4:41 pm: So far, pro-monument supporters are outnumbering pro-Mitch Landrieu removal supporters.

Update at 4:37 pm: Rev. says monuments are shameful and the people who support them “have no shame.” The Reverend is friends with Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey. Rev. says Lee Circle needs to be replaced with President Barack Obama. Stand With Dignity crowd  cheering loudly to Obama proposal.

Update at 4:35 pm: Resident says top priority should be the crime in the city, not the monuments.

Leader of Save Our Circle Tim Shea Carroll now speaking. Says Landrieu’s actions have divided the community. Says Save Our Circle was created to give a voice to all citizens who disagree with Mayor Landrieu. Says polls have shown that the monuments are a non-issue for residents.

Tim Shea Carroll beginning to get heckled by Stand With Dignity members. Tim says he wants to go from ‘Save Our Circle’ to ‘Save Our City’ to help stop crime.

Update at 4:30 pm: Resident and member of Save Our Circle says this is an issue about the preservation of historical monuments. Says if council votes to remove monuments, it will go further to Andrew Jackson monument and every image of Fleur De Lis will be removed from the city. Save Our Circle crowd cheering loudly in support.

Another resident says veterans today could have monuments dedicated to them and years later have them taken down because of changing political climate. Says “please don’t let political correctness” take down these monuments.

Update at 4:25 pm: Archaeologist from Harvard advocating for monuments saying they are an “integral” part of the city. Says preserving history is not about going back in time, but that doesn’t mean the monuments should be destroyed. Says it’s a part of history. Also saying that the French Quarter is a relic of slave culture as well.

Another resident saying racism is evident throughout the city. Advocating for removing the monuments. Says monuments are representative of “traitors.” Says

Update at 4:17 pm: Council members referring to historical monuments as “Confederate monuments,” though some have nothing to do with Confederacy.

Update at 4:15 pm: Public hearing on monuments debacle beginning now. Monument supporters told to invoke Council Rules if heckled by pro-removal attendees during their speaking time.

Update at 4:10 pm: Just a note to readers following my live coverage, I will not be updating after every single speaker at meeting. Updates will be a summary of what’s being said by residents and council members, along with inside source updates about what’s taking place off camera.

Monument discussion coming up very soon. Stay with the Hayride for live coverage.

Update at 4:05 pm: There are apparently 200 people that want to speak about Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s plan to remove historical monuments from city’s public squares. The discussion is set to run for a very long time.

Just a reminder, the City Council will not be voting on the issue tonight. That vote will take place on Dec. 17. Landrieu only needs 4 City Council members to agree with him on removing monuments to get the monuments taken down.

Update at 4:00 pm: We’re two hours into when monuments discussion was supposed to begin. City Council still has multiple other resolutions/ordinances to talk and vote on before we get to monuments issue. However, they’ve suspended the rules meaning they are going to fly through the talk and discussions on each ordinance to speed things up.

City Council acknowledged that they are long past due in meeting on getting to monument discussion.

Update at 3:20 pm: Stand With Dignity members speaking on HireNOLA ordinance. The group was in Baton Rouge, La. earlier today on a “hunger strike,” protesting the new food stamp regulations which would force food stamp recipients to work for a living.

Sources say that even a few of the New Orleans City Council members participated in the hunger strike. Still not discussing monuments yet.

Update at 3:03 pm: These are the New Orleans residents outside the City Council chambers who are demanding four historical monuments be removed. The residents resemble ‘gutter punks,’ which New Orleans citizens use as a slang term to describe transients.

take em down nola2 take em down nola1

Update at 3:00 pm: Councilman Jason Williams just said that the $2 billion in FEMA money that the city just got will help lower crime rates. That money will largely go to street repairs.

Update at 2:55 pm: In other related news, at a Mayor Mitch Landrieu press conference taking place, Landrieu responded to Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell’s statements that the city needs to focus on crime instead of taking down monuments. Landrieu apparently said “We can do two things at once.”

Update at 2:50 pm: Just a side-note about the Hire NOLA program that the City Council is discussing right now, our Editor-in-Chief Scott McKay called the program “criminally stupid” and here’s why.

Update at 2:45 pm: New Orleans City Council still has not taken up monuments issue. Earlier announcements ahead of this meeting said it would start at 2:00 pm. However, we’re nearly an hour in and still no monuments talk.

Now, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration is giving a presentation on an entirely separate issue called HireNOLA. Also, residents now speaking about HireNOLA program.

Update at 2:32 pm: New Orleans Police Department at City Council chambers saying that the room is in full-capacity and that no one else will be allowed into the chambers.

Discussion on monuments is expected to begin any moment now.

Update at 2:27 pm: New Orleans City Council still not yet taken up monuments issue. Sources inside the meeting say that pro-removal group Stand With Dignity is also in large attendance at the meeting.

Stand With Dignity has some of the same members as the group that poured fake blood and vandalized two historical monuments in the city recently, which the Hayride reported exclusively on.

Update at 2:15 pm: The historical monuments debate seems to be running about 15 minutes behind. City Council discussing/debating another ordinance at the moment.

For the meantime, here’s some inside information to note: Take Em Down Nola, a group claiming multiple monuments in the city are symbols of white supremacy, seem to be in attendance at the City Council meeting. However, they are also apparently protesting outside the chambers.

Also, remember, Councilwoman Stacy Head and Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell have both pushed back this week against Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration on the monument issue. The Hayride previously reported on the issues back in September, but Head and Cantrell both confirmed our reports this week.

Update at 1:50 pm: The New Orleans City Council is set to talk monuments in about 10 minutes. Sources inside the Council chambers say residents will be able to speak on the issue for 2 minutes each.

Also, the grassroots opposition group Save Our Circle has a large majority in the chambers. Meanwhile, supporters of Landrieu’s removal plan, Take Em Down Nola, are expected to not attend the meeting, but protest outside of it, according to sources.



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