Kern Reese is the judge in question, and he had the case the Monumental Task Committee brought alleging that the P.G.T. Beauregard statue at the entrance to City Park is owned by the state rather than the city and therefore can’t be removed by New Orleans’ mayor Mitch Landrieu.
A temporary restraining order was sought on Monday, and Reese denied that. This morning the monument supporters tried to get an injunction to save the Beauregard statue while the question of who actually owns it, and Reese denied that as well.
The ruling came days after a pro-Confederate monument group held a news conference to announce that it believes the board that governs City Park, and not the city, owns the monument at the entrance of the park.
The Monumental Task Committee called on the City Park Improvement Association to stop the removal. The group sought an immediate temporary restraining order, which Judge Kern Reese denied. The committee’s next step was to obtain an injunction at Wednesday’s hearing to stop the city from removing Beauregard.
Reese denied the injunction, which would have stopped the removal of the monument until it was determined who owned the monument. He said a previous state Supreme Court case determined that the city owns all of the park.
WDSU reporter Jennifer Crockett said a trial date has not been set to determine ownership, but a trial would not matter if the city took the monument down before. The injunction would have protected the monument until then.
Reese told the courtroom that the issue of the monuments has gone on for an “inordinate amount of time.” He said the city is within its rights to remove the monuments.
That doesn’t sound very promising, does it?
The arguments in court didn’t go overly well for Beauregard…
Monumental Task Committee attorney Franklin Jones presented a series of exhibits he said calls into question whether the city owns the monument. He provided documentation that points to the City Park Improvement Association as the owner. He also asked the court to consider that the monument is possibly in fragile shape, and that granting the committee more time to research records would help prevent any harm to it during removal.
An attorney for the city, Adam Swensek, argued the committee had 16 months to present evidence before four different courts and still has not proven that anyone but the city owns the monument — one of four the City Council approved for removal in December 2015.
Reese agreed, saying, “the Democratic process, whether we like it or not, has gone on long enough.”
The next step would be an appeal, but by the time the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard it the chances of Beauregard still watching over the entrance to City Park would be pretty slim. New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu seems determined to take Beauregard down long before those weeks and months drag by.
Monumental Task Committee member Richard Marksbury, who sought the injunction, said he would review with Jones whether the group should take his case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. But Marksbury acknowledged that the committee is running out of time because a arguments at the appellate level would take time, and Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s efforts to remove Beauregard as well as the statue of Robert E. Lee at Lee Circle and the Jefferson Davis statue at Mid-City could occur before then.
It’s starting to look bleak for efforts to save Beauregard, not to mention Lee and Davis. The best hope for saving the monuments would be the passage into law of HB 71, the bill at the Louisiana legislature which would put the monuments under state protection of sorts, and then a delay until a new mayor takes office. But as we’ve written, HB 71 is not going to become law – in the fairly likely event it passes on the House floor in the next few days it will be shunted off to the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee in the other house, and all historical preservation bills dealing with Beauregard and the other monuments have died there on a 5-4 vote by committee chair Karen Carter Peterson and the four other black Democrats on the committee. That Senate rules require those bills to go through the Senate Education Committee, where there is a 5-2 Republican majority, is a fact lost of Senate President John Alario. All Alario cares about is keeping Gov. John Bel Edwards happy, and Edwards doesn’t want to have to veto a bill that 70 percent of Louisiana’s population would like to see passed, so Alario will kill this bill in the Senate in the same way he’s killed all the others like it.
The political pressure on Landrieu to stop his efforts at bowdlerizing monuments like the one to Beauregard has clearly not worked; not even when Condoleeza Rice said earlier this week that doing so was stupid and not even when the specter of their removal has brought out some of the most embarrassing conflicts between snowflake communists from Antifa and confederate flaggers to make New Orleans look like a city torn apart by imbeciles. He seems determined to push through that pressure, which would have deterred a more reasonable politician, and it doesn’t appear there is a judge in sight who will buck the mayor. Certainly Reese isn’t.
As for Beauregard, his time seems short. In a matter of days, masked men on the city’s payroll will arrive with cranes and other heavy equipment, with a heavy police presence in tow, and put the monument on a flatbed truck bound for some obscure warehouse where it will linger for an unspecified period of time – if not forever.
Perhaps it might be time for monument supporters to consider what consequences they would impose on a city which so despises its own history as to do to its markers what the Taliban did to the Bamiyan statues, what ISIS did to Palmyra and what the Soviets did to photos of those former friends who became personae non grata. Stopping Landrieu before he joins that execrable roster of villains looks like a decreasingly viable proposition.