NEW ORLEANS (CNN/NBC) – Under heavy police presence, crews took down the statue of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis in New Orleans early Thursday morning.
It’s the second Confederate monument to come down after the New Orleans city council voted to remove four such landmarks back in 2015. After years of heated public debate and legal battles, recent court decisions paved the way for the city to relocate the four monuments.
Early Thursday, pro-monument supporters held vigil at the Davis statue and hoisted Confederate flags.
People who want to see the monuments removed also gathered at the site and cheered at the sight of heavy trucks and a crane moving into place. They chanted, “Take ’em down” and “White supremacy’s got to go.”
The opposing sides screamed insults and threats at one another as police separated them using barriers.
The statues in New Orleans are part of a controversy surrounding Confederate symbols over whether they represent slavery and racial injustice, or heritage. The issue became especially prominent after the massacre of nine black parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina, by a self-described white supremacist in 2015.
New Orleans police officers set up barricades at the Jefferson Davis monument on May 4, 2017. The Louisiana House committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs voted Wednesday to advance House Bill 71 that would forbid the removal of Confederate monuments in Louisiana.
“These monuments have stood not as historic or educational markers of our legacy of slavery and segregation, but in celebration of it,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a statement.
“To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in some of our most prominent public places is not only an inaccurate reflection of our past, it is an affront to our present, and a bad prescription for our future. We should not be afraid to confront and reconcile our past.”
Jefferson Davis in New Orleans
The Davis statue stands on top of a roughly 12-foot column and depicts the Confederate president with his right arm outstretched, towering over the street also named after him.
Davis lived in New Orleans after the Civil War and died there in 1889. The statue was dedicated in 1911.
In 2004, the words “slave owner” were painted on the base of the monument.