Jefferson Davis statue coming down overnight in New Orleans

3 years ago The Times-Picayune 0

The city intends to take down the Jefferson Davis statue in Mid-City early Thursday (May 11). Its one of four monuments the New Orleans City Council declared nuisances in December and the second Mayor Mitch Landrieu will apparently remove, according to a New Orleans Police Department notice to a nearby school.

NOLA.com will post updates here overnight as events unfold at the monument site on Canal Street at Jefferson Davis Parkway. The most recent updates will be at the top of this page.

2:30 a.m.: Police have just closed off Jefferson Davis Parkway at Cleveland Avenue, heading toward Canal Street.

2:10 a.m.: NOPD has a two-person team guarding the front of the statue. There are five officers standing behind the monument, where two police vehicles and two tow trucks are parked. Two NOPD trucks carrying portable lights just arrived.

1:45 a.m.: NOPD moves people off the neutral ground in front of the Jefferson Davis monument. A man identifying himself as a “patriot” in the pro-monument group reminds others to remain calm and positive.

1 a.m.: Still no sign of a crane to remove the statue. Groups of monument supporters and opponents remain on the scene, but there have been no incidents thus far.

Pat Gallagher, who lives in Jefferson Parish, said she decided to go out to the intersection because she is concerned about the preservation of all monuments, both Confederate and others.

“I think it’s a slippery slope,” she said of taking down monuments. “It’s part of history — whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. You can’t change history.”

She expressed a special concern for monuments to those who served in the military, ticking off a list of wars and battles in which she said her ancestors have served, beginning with one who fought at Valley Forge and continuing through the Battle of New Orleans, the Civil War, World War II and a nephew now stationed in Afghanistan.

“This is about monuments to military men who fought for their country,” she said. “This is very personal for me. That’s why I’m here — to stand up for my ancestors — all of them.”

“I’m getting sick at heart because they’re getting ready to take this down,” she said, tearing up. 

12:40 a.m.: Additional NOPD vehicles arrive on the scene, joining those already near the monument. They include K-9 units.

12:30 a.m.: Krista Jankowski of New Orleans, a member of First Grace United Methodist Church, which sits at Canal Street and Jefferson Davis, said she decided to come out to the intersection because she heard that the monument would be coming down and she has a special interest in seeing it happen.

The congregation represents a blend of two former churches, one predominantly black and the other predominantly white, that combined after Katrina.

“We’ve been talking about this as a church community,” Jankowski said of the monuments. “The church, for sure, is a place where we really try to engage with these kinds of conversations.”

Jankowski said she thinks the monument’s presence is problematic in its current state, with Jefferson Davis “glorified” atop a pedestal, especially in a city with a majority black population.

“You can learn just as much or probably more when it’s put in context in a museum,” she said.

12:10 a.m.: Reporter Wilborn Nobles III broadcasts from the scene via Facebook Live.

11:30 p.m.: A group of monument supporters, bearing various versions of Confederate flags, makes a circuit around the Jefferson Davis monument. They square off briefly for a verbal confrontation with opponents on the Canal Street neutral ground before police separate them.

10:50 p.m.: WVUE Fox 8 reporter Ryan Naquin captures an exchange between pro- and anti-monument protesters.

10:40 p.m.: About five to seven monument supporters carrying Confederate flags have started marching around the area, crossing the downtown-bound lanes of Canal Street, walking down Canal and then turning next to the Holy Ground bar and then walking riverbound down Jefferson Davis Parkway.  

A crowd gathers Wednesday night (May 10, 2017) on the Jefferson Davis Parkway neutral ground across from the monument to the Confederate president, which the city was moving into position to remove.

10:15 p.m.: There were 50 to 60 people across Canal Street from the statue, and a group of about 30 monument supporters on the lake side of Jefferson Davis Parkway. Portable lights have been moved around the intersection.

Some protesters on each side are arguing with one another but with nowhere near the intensity of what unfolded the night of May 1 when police had to disperse a crowd of about 100 from around the statue. 

On Wednesday night, a monument opponent burned sage to get rid of “negative energy” from a supporter.  

9:45 p.m.: New Orleans police have notified a nearby school that the city intends to take down the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis early Thursday morning (May 11). NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune obtained a phone message and email Morris Jeff Community School Principal Patricia Perkins sent to parents Wednesday evening, indicating Superintendent Michael Harrison had contacted her about the monument removal.

The message says Harrison told Perkins that she should hold classes Thursday but to tell parents that there would be no access to Canal Street from the campus. The NOPD did not have an immediate response to this report.

The school is a block away from the Jefferson Davis statue.

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– Reporters Wilborn Nobles III, Laura McKnight, Danielle Dreillinger and Beau Evans contributed to this story.