New Orleans Declares Confederate Statues Nuisances, Plans to Erase History

“I and other witnesses withstood disrespectful implications that we were racist, supporting white supremacy, and not being understanding of the level of oppression felt by folks that want the monuments taken down.”

Since the national media has given the despicable actions of the New Orleans mayor and city council almost no coverage, I am not sure how many Americans know or could understand what is happening here in our state’s best known city of New Orleans.

The iconic statues and monuments of the well known U.S. Civil War Confederate figures; General Robert E. Lee, General P.G.T. Beauregard, and President Jefferson Davis, were declared “public nuisances” by Democrat Mayor Mitch Landrieu two years ago, and subsequently voted for removal by a city council controlled by said mayor. The mayor has won approval through the courts by saying these statues are the city’s private property. Thus, they have the right to remove the monuments (without the public’s vote mind you) even though they are landmarks known to the city by tourists and locals alike for over 100 years.

Well-known philanthropist Frank Stewart made headlines when he published a two-page ad in the newspapers last week, calling the mayor out for his misguided policy. Stewart is a life-long friend and financial supporter of the Landrieu’s but likened the removal of the statues in a Times-Picayune interview to “book burnings,” stating, “History is a learning experience and I just hope like heck — you don’t remove books, you don’t burn books and you don’t remove these memorials.” Stewart has taken out a second full page ad in Sunday’s Louisiana papers.

The mayor started the removal a few weeks ago and has done so in a way that can only be described as a methodology one would normally see in “worker’s paradise” countries such as North Korea or Cuba. He has hidden the names of the contractors from the public, has denied access to requests for public information on where the funding came from.

He has also taken measures to hide who the city workers were, although they appear to have been city firefighters trained in secret who then worked at the first removal site illegally wearing masks over their faces while in full body armor, including combat helmets. They even had sniper teams deployed to protect them.

All this was done under the cover of scheduling secrecy and at 1:30 in the morning, as if those that oppose removal of these national iconic works of art and historically significant monuments would riot and threaten the lives of their own fellow citizens.

Actually, the only violence that has been displayed in the ruckus over these monuments has been done by so-called “antifa” rioters who have showed up to harass, verbally assault, spit on, and throw eggs at the pro-monument folks who are standing round-the-clock vigils at the three most threatened monuments. Initially New Orleans police were given a stand down order, but the violence became so dangerous a few days ago that five antifa attackers were arrested and some peaceful pro-monument vigil participants had to be rescued from the antifa mob.

As a citizen who dedicated over 32 years of his life defending the freedom of my fellow Americans, I find these divisive actions to be despotic at best, and despicable for an elected government in an American municipality.

Mayor Landrieu takes these actions at a time when New Orleans murder rates are on the increase, and opioid overdose deaths are so high they have exceeded murder deaths for the first time. Funds are so low that the city has not paid fire fighters what they are due in past retirements, and the city can’t fully man its police department which is still operating under a Federal Consent Order.

The issue of the monuments has only served to distract from these overriding priorities and divide the people of this great city, moreover it is spreading throughout the state as other municipalities try to summarily remove monuments and markers to the honored dead from over a century ago; monuments that are visited by the families of the deceased to still honor them at times throughout each year.

The state legislature has stepped in and recently passed a bill to protect military veteran memorials and battlefield markers out of committee. The bill would require a vote by citizens in any municipality that wants to remove veteran monuments and markers. But even this bill was race-baited during the committee hearings by opposition legislators, and local papers pointed out that “only white” supporters showed up to testify for passage even though renowned Louisiana Reverend C. L. Bryant (who happens to be black) sent a written statement that was read into the record during the hearings.

Supporters of keeping these monuments come from varied backgrounds and races, and have many reasons for their support. A black woman drove all the way from Oklahoma to stand watch over these monuments and many folks just want them to stay in place as a free speech principle under the first amendment to the Constitution.

I appeared before the committee as a veteran and a supporter of the protection bill since the legislation is targeted at veteran monuments. What follows is my prepared testimony before the Louisiana State House of Representatives Municipal, Parochial, and Cultural Committee:

“I am here as a 9th generation grandson of Private William Maness Jr. of the American Revolution’s Continental Army. I am here as the great-great grandson of both a Union Soldier and a Confederate Cavalryman. I am here as the son and brother of Air Force and Army Veterans. I am here as the Father of three U.S. military sons. I am here as a former Commander who has had the daunting responsibility for young American and enemy lives every minute of the day in combat.

I am here as a US veteran and a family member of a man who sacrificed much for his country. A man who is, by law, a US veteran regardless of the color of his uniform in the civil war. I want to tell you how grateful his family was that the United States saw fit to try to reconcile with each veteran in that war, regardless of the side they were on. I remember as a boy being shown my great grandmother’s note to the governor and the then War Department expressing the deep gratitude she and her mother felt that their father and husband veteran was being honored by our Nation as a U.S. Veteran and would receive all the same rights, privileges, and benefits as all other veterans.

Ladies and gentlemen, these monuments are not about some long lived racial issue, even if they might have been at one time in our history. These veteran’s monuments and battlefield markers honor the sacrifice of all US veterans and their families in that war as they should be. Please remember that many family member descendants continue to live in this nation and our state today, many that had loved ones buried on battlefields in unmarked graves, who see these monuments as the only place where they can honor their veteran’s sacrifice.

I ask that you give serious consideration to the fact that our nation has seen fit to reconcile the United States to ALL her veterans years ago, and that you do the right thing by passing this bill with a favorable report.”

I and other witnesses withstood disrespectful implications that we were racist, supporting white supremacy, and not being understanding of the level of oppression felt by folks that want the monuments taken down. Of course, as you can see from my remarks, racism and white supremacy were not a part of my testimony or anyone else’s testimony that day.

Given enough time, the facts will bear out that these monuments weren’t nuisances before the New Orleans mayor made them such, and the legal argument that they are private city property to be moved at the will of the city council will be defeated by the facts.

The people that I know who are trying to protect these monuments are not racist, white supremacists; nor are they trying to restart some kind of crazy philosophy from America’s past. We only want to see them stay in place as a part of our nation’s and city’s history and personality. They are some the world’s richest works of art and are still used as places for families of these veterans (who are due all the rights, privileges and benefits of U.S. veterans according to a U.S. law passed in 1958) to honor their sacrifice, regardless of what side they fought on. I challenge all Americans to stand against this version of book burning here in the 21st century.