The city of New Orleans is set to remove its fourth and final Confederate-era monument.
Unlike the first three statues, Gen. Robert E. Lee is coming down during the day.
Streets near the city’s Lee Circle — where the monument stands — were blocked off by early Friday in preparation for the dismantling that’s scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
The city started removing the landmarks in late April after the New Orleans City Council voted in 2015 to remove the four Confederate markers. Recent court rulings cleared the way for the monuments to be removed and relocated following heated public debate and legal fights.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will give remarks Friday afternoon about the city’s efforts to remove the four Confederate monuments.
An end to ‘lost cause’
The statues were erected decades after the Civil War to celebrate the “lost cause of the Confederacy, ” a movement recognized across the South as promoting white supremacy, according to a press release from the mayor’s office.
The Lee statue was erected in 1884 in honor of the military leader of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Early Wednesday, the equestrian statue of Confederate Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, who died in New Orleans in 1893, came down.
Last week, the city removed a 6-foot statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from its pedestal. The statue had stood atop a roughly 12-foot column and depicted him with his right arm outstretched, towering over the street also named after him.
The city also announced Thursday night that the area that formerly housed the Jefferson Davis statue will be replaced by an American flag.
The statues would be put in storage while the city looks for a suitable place to display them, the mayor has said.
Private funding raised by the city will pay for the removal of the landmarks, Landrieu’s office has said.
Building tension over the monuments
Amid security threats, contractors wearing masks and tactical vests removed the first monument at night last month: an obelisk commemorating the Battle of Liberty Place. It marked a deadly fight between the Crescent City White League, a group opposed to the city’s racially integrated police force, and state militia after the Civil War.
Backlash against removing Confederate monuments in the city has been building.
The Louisiana Legislature is considering a measure that would prohibit local governments from removing war memorials, including those from the Civil War. The bill allows local governments to take down a memorial only if voters approve the action at “an election held for that purpose.”
The effort to remove the New Orleans monuments is part of a larger controversy surrounding Confederate symbols in cities nationwide. The issue gained momentum after the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina, by a self-described white supremacist.
Some people see the Confederate monuments as symbols of racial injustice and slavery, and others say they are a part of history and heritage.
Efforts to remove Confederate statues are underway in other parts of the south, including in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a Confederate General Robert E. Lee statue is scheduled to be removed. That sparked protests last weekend, including one Saturday in which torch-carrying demonstrators were led by white nationalist Richard Spencer, resulting in criticisms that the gathering evoked images of the Ku Klux Klan. A counterprotest was held on Sunday night.