The New Orleans City Council on Sunday formally condemned the protesters who tore down the bust of John McDonogh in New Orlean’s Duncan Plaza and subsequently dumped it into the Mississippi River.
In a joint statement, the city council condemned the destruction of the statue, contending that those types of acts “divert attention from the attainment of the positive goals of the protests and enable the detractors to justify and validate their warped reasoning for their hate.”
The council also warned that such actions will “not be tolerated” and emphasized that it has established a process for “reviewing and renaming public spaces and streets throughout the City of New Orleans,” which they say is filled with “numerous tributes to hate mongers, traitors to the United States, segregationists and slave owners.”
“This process will be open, transparent, comprehensive. It is designed to encourage everyone’s voice to be heard, and we welcome everyone’s input,” the council continued.
“We stand strongly in support of the goals of the peaceful protests to bring an end to racism, hatred, police brutality and hate,” it added. “We strongly condemn the destruction that took place and hope that there are no such acts in the future.”
Protesters on Saturday tore the bust of McDonogh, a slave holding merchant, off of its monument and tossed it into the Mississippi River:
New Orleans Police Dept says they’ve arrested two people after statue of John McDonogh in Duncan Plaza pulled down, driven to the Mississippi River and rolled into the water. pic.twitter.com/ethjTHp15T
— Bryn Stole (@brynstole) June 13, 2020
Another statue of a slave owner relocated to a more appropriate venue. Bye John McDonogh! pic.twitter.com/dUjTLSD12L
— TVDP (@sensitivepapi) June 13, 2020
The City of New Orleans rejects vandalism and destruction of City property. It is unlawful. pic.twitter.com/CcAKfNFK5X
— Mayor LaToya Cantrell (@mayorcantrell) June 13, 2020
WWL described McDonogh as a “businessman from Baltimore who made his fortune in shipping and later land ownership in New Orleans” and a slaveowner who “had a reputation as a slumlord.”
“Upon his death, he willed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the city for the construction of public schools,” the outlet added.
The two accused of driving the statue to the river were arrested and have since been released, per Nola:
In a news release, New Orleans police identified the pair as Caleb Wassell, 27, and Michaela Davis, 32. Police arrested both on Saturday evening, not long after demonstrators had rolled the statue into the river near the Jax Brewery.
Magistrate Court Commissioner Robert Blackburn released both on their own recognizance after a bail hearing on Sunday morning. Police booked both with inciting a riot, and Wassell was booked with theft worth less than $1,000 and possession of stolen goods, while Davis was booked with principal to theft.
Protesters replaced the bust with symbols of LGBT pride and reportedly wrote the word “racist” in red underneath his name.
The news follows an explosion of vandalisms among demonstrators, who are, in some cases, lawlessly tearing down monuments in the name of social justice.