BATISTE: City Park Taking Possession Of Monument It Claimed Not To Own

City Park began the removal of the base of the historic Beauregard Equestrian Monument today. The statue of Louisiana’s most historically significant Creole was removed under the cover of darkness by New Orleans Firefighters on May 17, 2017. The Beauregard monument was erected in 1915. The pedestal the previous year.

The pedestal’s completion was announced in the Times Picayune on May 23, 1914. The caption below a picture included: “Even as it stands it is a monument in itself, and should be of interest to all those interested in Confederate history.” Not the way the city left it with the face removed.

Since Mitch first started the monument controversy, the pedestal has been vandalized numerous times with only one arrest made, that being two men who spray painted “Gen. Beauregard” on it. As recent as July 4th, the group Gulf Revolutionary Artist Formation graffiti tagged messages about protecting illegal immigrants including their name. This didn’t happen until Mitch stirred it up for his own gain.

City Park responded to questions about the pedestal removal. According to City Park, the pedestal “will be stored in a service area of New Orleans City Park.” This means the Alexander Doyle masterpiece is in a City of New Orleans shed and the adjoining pedestal is in City Park’s possession. The historic monument is separated and being held by two different entities.

Mitch Landrieu used masked firefighters to remove the historic statue, City Park used qualified experts in Alfortish Enterprises. Alfortish builds tombs and memorials and has been in the business since 1906.

The City Park Improvement Association is overseeing the removal and it is financially covering the cost of relocation, an estimated $75,000. While Mitch Landrieu and his minions said many times that he wouldn’t burden taxpayers with the cost, this is another instance of a government agency having to throw money into the monument controversy.

As to concerns about a time capsule in the pedestal, City Park said, “If one is found we will turn it over to the Lousiana (sic) Museum.”

The biggest red flag in this is City Park now stepping into an ownership role. As has only been covered by The Hayride, the City Park Improvement Association grossly neglected their role and allowed former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to swipe the nationally recognized monument of G. T. Beauregard owned by City Park.

Evidence stacks up showing that the board rolled over and let Mitch take their monument and now is the time to revisit it.

Bob Becker, the CEO of City Park emailed Landrieu’s Chief of Staff a copy of the 1997 application to place the Beauregard statue on the National Register of Historic Places. This document, signed by then CPIA President Gary Solomon and submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior, states that the CPIA “is the true and only legal owner of the General Beauregard Equestrian Statue located in the New Orleans City Park.” Becker’s June 2015 email to Landrieu’s office with this document attached says: “Makes interesting reading.”

In August 2015, then Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne wrote “The P.G.T. Beauregard statue is owned by City Park.” And City Park is run by the CPIA which technically is a State of Louisiana agency that falls under the control of the Lt. Governor’s office. In response to Dardenne’s comments, City Park spokesperson, John Hopper told WRNO, “We’re not waffling. It is just that we really do not think there is enough information or that enough due diligence has been done to say definitely City Park owns it, the city owns it, the state owns it. We just do not know for sure.”

The City Park board’s minutes from June 2015 through June 2017, the latest uploaded on their website today after a request was made. In nearly two years of recorded meeting notes, one single mention was made about the Beauregard monument, during the May 23, 2017 meeting, after it was removed. During the May 2017 meeting the Board went “into Executive session to discuss issues regarding the Beauregard Monument. No action was taken while in Executive session.”

Two pertinent letters have been pulled from the archives. A City of New Orleans engineer wrote to the Beauregard Monument Association in 1908 about building the bridge at Esplanade Ave. across Bayou St. John, and, because the monument was not built yet, wrote “the matter of the mound will then rest entirely with the City Park Commissioners.” So the City engineer deferred the Beauregard monument mound to the  board.

In 1905 the CPIA wrote to the Beauregard Monument Association that the CPIA “unanimously resolved to tender you the site necessary for the monument to General Beauregard in the City Park.”

The CPIA today consists of 35 people, appointed and elected. Two New Orleans City Council Members sit on the board, Susan Guidry and Jason Williams. Both voted for the removal of the Beauregard Monument on December 17, 2015. This should have been an obvious conflict of interest, as the Council votes of Guidry and Williams directly conflict with their role on the CPIA board to protect the assets of City Park.

The Board sat back and let Mitch Landrieu take their 102 year old monument to a West Point graduate and Superintendent, a veteran of two wars, a man who rose to the rank of General, and later in life was one of Louisiana’s first civil rights leaders (Louisiana Unification Movement in 1873). But now, after three years of denying ownership, City Park is taking possession of the monument pedestal. An explanation has been requested from City Park. This story will be updated if it is provided.

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