The decision to take the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee off its pedestal during the day Friday and with advance notice came because of the particularly difficult problem of removing a statue that towered so high over the city, combined with confidence by law enforcement officials they could handle any security threats, an official in Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration said.

The public removal of Lee, which was announced Thursday night and drew a crowd of hundreds, mostly removal supporters, was a sharp break with the secrecy surrounding the earlier removal of three other Confederate monuments, which were taken down at night and without advance notice.

The key factor driving the decision to remove the Lee statue in the daylight was the difficulty of removing a 4-ton statue atop a 68-foot column in the middle of Lee Circle, Landrieu spokesman Tyronne Walker said.

Teams working on the project “said that because of the height (of the column) and how tough this project was, we couldn’t do it at night,” Walker said.

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For hours before the final removal about 6 p.m. Friday, workers could be seen leaning out of a basket on a crane at the top of the column to work on attaching cables, something that could have been dangerous in darkness.

There also were concerns about whether spotlights would be able to properly illuminate the top of the statue at night, Walker said.