The most newsworthy nugget out of New Orleans Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell’s extensive interview with Gambit in this week’s issue is that the new mayor has a plan to relocate three statues of Confederate leaders that her predecessor Mitch Landrieu pushed to remove from public property.
Her idea is basically to let them have them.
The “them” in this case is some of the people who’ve pushed the hardest for the now-warehoused likenesses of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard to be put back on display. Cantrell specifically named the non-profit Monumental Task Committee, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and businessman Frank Stewart, who paid for plenty of ad space to make his opposition to Landrieu’s initiative known, as likely members of a working group to come up with a more detailed solution. One idea she cited was to put one or two of the statues in Greenwood Cemetery.
Likely to be forever homeless, though, is the fourth monument removed in the drawn-out process, the obelisk commemorating a white supremacist uprising against the city’s Reconstruction-era integrated police force. The Battle of Liberty Place monument has no champions, at least among this group, Cantrell said.
As a member of the City Council, Cantrell voted to remove the monuments after expressing some reservations about the process. Because lawsuits by the Monumental Task Committee and others delayed the removal, the task of figuring out what to replace them with will be on her plate once she takes office next month.
As for resurrecting the fallen monuments, Cantrell she said she’d support the group's intentions but also made it clear where she thinks the city’s responsibility ends.
“My plan is to work with those who care about them and come up with a plan that I could support,” she said. “And they will pay for it.”