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Battle of Liberty Place Obelisk Removed under Cover of Darkness
Monument Glorified 1874 Battle for White Supremacy


New Orleans' officials have voted 6-1 in favor of removing four Confederacy monuments in the city. The first to go was Liberty Place monument, a frequent target of defacement. Work on taking down the obelisk began at 2 a.m. on April 24, with armed guards present. The statues honoring Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate States President Jefferson Davis will be gone from the New Orleans streetscape soon.

In 1891, New Orleans erected a white marble obelisk to commemorate the September 14, 1874 Battle of Liberty Place (aka Battle of Canal Street) in which the Crescent City White Legion, a Democratic Party paramilitary organization of mostly former Confederate soldiers, took over the statehouse and downtown for three days before federal troops subdued them.

In 1932, the city added this inscription to the obelisk base:

"McEnery and Penn having been elected governor and lieutenant-governor by the white people, were duly installed by this overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers, Governor Kellogg (white) and Lieutenant-Governor Antoine (colored).

"United States troops took over the state government and reinstated the usurpers but the national election November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state."

The monument was originally at the end of Canal Street, but was moved and warehoused in 1989 during construction on Canal Street. The monument reemerged in 1993, prompted by a lawsuit. The obelisk was tucked away, hidden really, in an obscure small grassy area by the railroad tracks on Badine Street E, next to a chain linked fence parking lot and kitty corner to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. The "white supremacy" sentence on the monument base was now gone, replaced by a new inscription: "In honor of those Americans on both sides of the conflict who died in the Battler of Liberty Place. A conflict of the past that should teach us lessons for the future." The names of the 11 members of the metropolitan police who died in the 1874 battle were also added.

The obelisk was removed on April 24, which coincidentally is "Confederate Memorial Day" in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. Mississippi and Alabama closed government offices Monday. Note: Georgia changed the holiday name to "State Holiday" in 2015, following an attack on a black church, reports the Times-Picayune.

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July 22, 2019, 8:36 pm PDT

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