NEW ORLEANS – The bronze equestrian statue of Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard at the entrance to City Park was removed shortly after 3 a.m. Wednesday.
Work began to remove it around 7 p.m. Tuesday, when police officers began moving people away from the monument in preparation for its removal.
According to Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni, the base of the statue will not be removed at this time. It is unclear when, or if, the base will be removed.
According to WWL-TV Reporter Duke Carter, police said Beauregard's name would be removed from the base, however, the rest of the base would remain.
There were a handful of arrests throughout the night by NOPD. Three people were arrested before the monument was lifted from its base. According to The New Orleans Advocate, NOPD said the charges were likely to be public drunkenness and an arson charge for trying to set a flag on fire. A woman was also arrested shortly after the statue was lifted up when she came ashore from a kayak in Bayou St. John near the monument.
Shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, massive spotlights, large cranes and a big work crew showed up at the scene to repeat the drill done twice before, preparing a monument for removal.
There were strong views from those watching the removal on both sides of the debate.
"When I was a little girl the statue was something fun that I drove by on my way to school," said Janet Rupert, a supporter of removing the monuments. "Learning more about the history of what it really represents, more than just it’s a work of art, it’s a statue, the reasons why it was put up in the first place, I think it’s time to take them down."
Some said regardless of what the statue represents, it's a work of art.
"To me, they are a historic landmark in the city, like a placeholder that has survived countless hurricanes," said a man who only identified himself as George. "That statue is 106 years old. Usually, in New Orleans, we’re really sad when we see a family restaurant of 50 years go. This is double that."
Others felt the city has bigger problems Mayor Mitch Landrieu is ignoring other than removing the monuments.
"New Orleans has potholes where cars can disappear," said one woman. "New Orleans is one of the highest crime rate cities in the nation. We have how many policemen standing out here, with their hands on their hips just looking us like we’re going to cause a riot? Where are his priorities?"
"Today we take another step in defining our City not by our past but by our bright future," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a statement issued Tuesday around 8:30 p.m. "While we must honor our history, we will not allow the Confederacy to be put on a pedestal in the heart of New Orleans."
Landrieu also said that the removal would cause some traffic issues with the following street closures: Moss Street between Desaix Boulevard and Esplanade Avenue and North Carrolton Avenue between Esplanade Avenue, and City Park Avenue will be closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
The Monumental Task Committee, in perhaps its most strongly-worded statement since the removal of the statues began, said the statue was of perhaps the most historically-significant Creole who ever lived.
"...its removal disgraces Louisiana people of Creole descent, and Beauregard was one of Louisiana's first civil rights leaders. The memorial that was taken down was to a man who worked to advance race relations through the 1873 Louisiana Unification Movement—contrast that against Landrieu whose actions and comments are entirely intolerant and divisive."
Last minute appeals - the vocal kind and not the legal one - were made Tuesday by members of the Monumental Task Committee, apparently to no avail. City Park issued a statement Tuesday evening saying that it doesn't have any information indicating that it owns the statue, rather than the city.
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The Beauregard statue was the third of four Confederate monuments Mayor Mitch Landrieu has vowed to remove. Previously taken down were the Battle of Liberty Place monument and a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Still awaiting removal is the statue of Robert E. Lee, whose likeness stands atop a column in the center of Lee Circle.
Each removal has drawn protests from those who have sought to keep the monuments in place, with several people standing vigil at the Davis statue and waving Confederate battle flags even as a crane lifted it off its pedestal.
Most recently, the Monumental Task Committee launched a long-shot legal battle in an effort to save the Beauregard statue.
PHOTOS: Beauregard statue removal
The group claimed the City Park Improvement Association owns the statue, not the city. A Civil District Court judge refused to issue an injunction to stop the impending removal, leading monument advocates seek a temporary restraining order from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.
The Beauregard monument was unveiled to a 17-gun salute the afternoon of Nov. 11, 1915, by Hilda Beauregard, a granddaughter of the Confederate general, according to a report in The Times-Picayune the next morning.
The monument was shown off for the first time to a crowd of hundreds – most being relatives of Confederate veterans -- during closing ceremonies for the annual convention and reunion of the Louisiana Division of United Confederate Veterans, The Picayune reported.
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The Beauregard Monument Association built the statue.
Many in the crowd at the unveiling wore grey and took off their hats when a band played “Dixie” and “The Bonnie Blue Flag,” a marching song often associated with the confederacy.
After the unveiling, a crowd of Confederate veterans circled the statue two or three times as strains of “America” and “Dixie” filled the air.