A 60 ft tall monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee towers over a traffic circle in New Orleans on June 24, 2015.
Jonathan Bachman—Reuters
By Maya Rhodan
July 9, 2015

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on Thursday joined Southern leaders in officially renouncing Confederate symbols that appear in public spaces around the city and state.

Landrieu formally asked the New Orleans City Council to start the process to remove four statues erected to honor Confederate leaders from their prominent positions throughout the city. The request follows Landrieu’s call for discussions and public hearings on the monuments in the wake of the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

“This is about more than the men represented in these statues. This discussion is about whether these monuments, built to reinforce the false valor of a war fought over slavery, ever really belonged in a city as great as New Orleans whose lifeblood flows from our diversity and inclusiveness,” said Landrieu said, according to the city’s website.

The mayor is calling for the removal of four structures including a statue honoring Robert E.Lee at Lee Circle, where protesters on Saturday burned a Confederate flag. Landrieu also wants the city to consider moving the Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway, the PGT Beauregard equestrian statue on Esplanade Avenue at the entrance to City Park; and, the Battle of Liberty Place Monument at Iberville Street as public nuisances, which would legally allow for their removal.

Landrieu also requested the Jefferson Davis Parkway be renamed to honor Dr. Norman C. Francis, a prominent Civil Rights leader who served as president of the historically black Xavier University.

His call to action came the same day that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill to remove the Confederate flag from outside the Palmetto state’s Capitol building. The flag is set to be removed on Friday.

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