Update 2:37 p.m. EST -- The New Orleans City Council voted six-to-one Thursday to remove four Confederate monuments that had come under fire following a racially charged shooting at a predominantly black church in South Carolina six months ago. The four monuments depict Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, the Battle of Liberty Place and Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard and were the subject of intense debate between those who argued the symbols were racist and those who argued that they were symbols of culture and history, not racism.

The white supremacist motives of the June 17 shooting at a predominantly black church in Charleston, South Carolina, sparked national debate about the place Confederate symbols have in public spaces. South Carolina and Alabama both decided to remove the Confederate battle flag from their statehouse grounds after it was discovered that the shooter, Dylan Roof, had posed with the flag before the shooting.



Original Story--The fate of monuments in New Orleans honoring Confederate heroes Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis could be decided Thursday by city leaders after intense debate swirled around the symbols that some say represent Southern heritage and others say stand for white supremacy. The decision would come six months to the day after the massacre at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in which white racist Dylann Roof methodically murdered nine people.

The debate in New Orleans has been “fiery,” according to local station WDSU News. The city council held a hearing last week to discuss the issue, and advocates on both sides made their voices heard outside the council chambers waving signs and flags. Two other monuments, depicting the Battle of Liberty Place and Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, are up for consideration, as well.

RTR4YT9F A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee towers over Lee Circle in New Orleans. Photo: Reuters

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has come out for removing the monuments. But others say that would be an assault on the city’s rich cultural and historic history.

“They’re inanimate objects. They are not an object that is carrying forward the hatred, racism and the oppression of our opponents here,” one resident told WDSU News, arguing the monuments should stay. “The idea is that New Orleans is an historic city and if you tear down history you might as well tear down New Orleans.”

That argument has been rejected by some Southern states where there had been steadfast support for Confederate symbols before the Charleston slaughter. The Confederate battle flag that flew on the South Carolina Statehouse grounds (and formerly atop the capitol dome) was removed in July after Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who had previously refused to consider removing it, called an emergency session of the Legislature to retire the flag to a museum. The battle flag that once flew on the Alabama state Capitol grounds was also removed.