Calling the city’s Confederate monuments “false history,” New Orleans’s Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin revealed that a private citizen is footing the entire bill for the removal of four of the city’s decades-old statues erected to memorialize several Confederate leaders and one battle.
Kopplin revealed the existence of the donor in a letter released by the city this week. The letter reported that the whole bill of upwards to $144,000 will be paid by a single person. Kopplin also noted that the donor wants to remain anonymous so as not to be identified as the person helping to remove the historic monuments.
In the letter, Kopplin lambasted the Confederate statues.
“These four statues stand in direct contradiction to the ideal of freedom enshrined in our Constitution and their presence in our city was meant to perpetuate a false history that literally puts the Confederacy on a pedestal,” Kopplin said in the letter made public on Sept. 14. “True remembrance is required, not blind reverence.”
Statues of Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis, and a monument to the Battle of Liberty Place are targeted for removal.
Several other officials also added their voices to the letter. Police Chief Michael Harrison, for instance, called the Confederate monuments “flashpoints for criminal activity and civil unrest.”
Harrison further called the monument to the battle of Liberty Place a “shameful” statue because it was “originally commissioned explicitly to celebrate an uprising that resulted in the deaths of 13 police officers.”
For his part, George Patterson, the director of property management, characterized the removal of the statues as a cost-saving move, citing the $4,000 his department has already spent this year in graffiti removal.
Kopplin summed up his disgust with the monuments by claiming that the statues violate the city’s “moral compass.”
The monuments have also been a political flashpoint as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal sought to block the city from removing the statues. Jindal objected to the tearing down of history that the removal of the monuments represents.
But around the same time that Jindal was looking for ways to block the removal, a group of African-American ministers met to urge the city to have the statues eliminated.
Ultimately, the city decided to go ahead and remove the monuments. It appears that the city will store the Confederate monuments in a city warehouse.
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