The fight over the Confederate monuments in New Orleans may not be over. Businessman Frank Stewart has launched a petition drive to try and restore the monuments that were torn down.
Gen. Robert E. Lee is down. So is Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis. The Battle of Liberty Place monument? Nothing but a naked pedestal. They’ve been that way for weeks.
But that doesn’t mean the staunchest supporters of New Orleans’ controversial Confederate monuments have given up hope. Businessman Frank Stewart is circulating a petition trying to change the city law and resurrect the four monuments, which Mayor Mitch Landrieu has described as homages to racial intimidation and a revisionist view of history that insists the Civil War wasn’t about slavery.
What exactly does the petition want to do? Here are the what the petition demands:
- The immediate return of the four statues removed in April and May to their public perches.
- The requirement of a popular vote on any proposal to remove any statue, plaque or commemoration to a person or event.
- The exemption of any monument older than 50 years from being subjected to the city’s public nuisance law, which the City Council invoked in December 2015 to remove the four Confederate monuments.
- Let anyone or any entity domiciled in New Orleans defend the charter changes — should they pass — in court.
- Give the Monumental Task Committee, which Stewart supports, the right to maintain the monuments.
- Establish rules to relocate any commemorations that must be moved for public works projects.
In order to get on the ballot, the petition must gather 10,000 signatures. For what it’s worth, we believe that this petition will probably get the signatures. There are enough monument supporters in New Orleans to force it on the ballot.
The question will then be can the charter changes pass in an election? That’s an open question. New Orleans is still a majority black electorate. It depends on how motivated monument opponents are.
In any event, the battle over Confederate monuments is far from over.