It’s been roughly a year since Mayor Mitch Landrieu first proposed taking down the statues of Civil War generals throughout the city of New Orleans, like General Robert E. Lee in Lee Circle, the statue of Confederate President Jeffeson Davis on Jefferson Davis Parkway, General P.G.T. Beauregard located at one of the entrances to City Park, as well as the street marker on Iberville which honors the Confederate side’s efforts in the Civil War. Because of our country’s changes and progress since those times, these statues were deemed offensive, outdated, and simply honoring people who perhaps shouldn’t be honored in today’s society.
In December of 2015, New Orleans’ City Council voted 6-1 in favor of plans to take down these monuments. While our country’s current social climate would seem to make it a widely-accepted notion to take down the statues, it’s not accepted by all. Many people, particularly from New Orleans and Louisiana in general, think of it as a disrespect to the history of the United States, regardless of what values these generals held dear.
Although the plans to take down the statues throughout New Orleans were set to begin, a new lawsuit is now at least delaying them. A professor at Tulane University, Richard Marksbury, has filed a suit against the city of New Orleans, protesting the removal of these monuments. However, the lawsuit filed by Marksbury doesn’t hold the same sentiments as most people who are against the removals. Marksbury’s lawsuit was actually filed because he feels he was discriminated against by not being taken seriously when he proposed that if all of these statues should be taken down, the statue of Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square should be removed as well.
This particular lawsuit is fairly complex. Marksbury “isn’t calling for Jackson’s removal,” but simply wants to make the point that all of the statues should stay. Marksbury argues that although Andrew Jackson was not part of the Civil War, he meets most, if not all, of the criteria that authorized the removal of all the other generals and politicians whose monuments were deemed worthy of removal. Jackson was a slave owner, and he authorized the “Trail of Tears", which was the forced, mass-migration of Native Americans to the west of the Mississippi River.
The City Council of New Orleans has been arguing against Marksbury’s claims, saying that there are differences between Jackson and the other politicians and generals in question. One of their main points is that Jackson did not fight on the side of a war that wanted to protect and keep slavery and keep a government and society dominated by whites.
All in all, this lawsuit aims to point out the lack of consideration the city gave to Marksbury’s initial argument. It also does not aim to remove the statue of Andrew Jackson, but actually aims to keep all of the existing statues standing. The suit points out the supposed hypocrisy of taking down statues of some “white supremacist” slave owners while leaving others.