Now that a federal appeals court has cleared the way, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration hopes to have three monuments to Confederate officials removed from public view by mid-May, according to bid documents released Tuesday.
But while there's now an ostensible timeline for the statues’ removal — a process that has been blocked by legal wrangling for more than a year — much about how the city intends to refashion the prominent public spaces they occupy remains unclear.
Also, simply hiring a contractor for the work could prove complicated. In the past, companies that showed interest in carrying out the removals reported receiving harassment and threats.
The bid documents released Tuesday give contractors until April 4 to bid on taking down the statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Confederate President Jefferson Davis and call for the job to be completed by May 19.
That timeline largely mirrors an earlier process that was first delayed and then scuttled as the court case seeking to block the statues' removal dragged on.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans removed that roadblock Monday, lifting a temporary order that had blocked the city from moving forward since last year.
The court's ruling said the Monumental Task Committee and other groups seeking to keep the monuments in place had little chance of succeeding in their case, which has yet to receive a full trial in a federal district court.
Confederate heroes Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard will soon be decampi…
The City Council more than a year ago also authorized the removal of a marker honoring the White League, a white supremacist militia that led a violent rebellion against the biracial Reconstruction-era government of Louisiana. That monument is protected by a separate court order dating from a previous attempt to remove it, though the city is seeking to have that order lifted.
Unlike that marker, now at an obscure site near the river end of Iberville Street, the other monuments are all in highly visible locations: Lee Circle on St. Charles Avenue, Beauregard Circle at the main entrance to City Park and near the intersection of Canal Street and Jefferson Davis Parkway.
Whether the city will see success in its current bid process remains an open question. In the past, it ran into problems finding contractors, thanks to threats and harassment reported by companies simply expressing an interest in removing the statues.
The company hired to remove four New Orleans monuments related to the Confederacy has backed…
Originally, the city picked H&O Investments of Baton Rouge to oversee the removal. But that firm backed out after its owner said he had received death threats. Shortly after withdrawing from the project, his Lamborghini was found torched in the company’s parking lot.
That set off a public bid process that played out at the same time as the early stages of the court case. But almost immediately, firms identified as having looked at the bid documents on the city’s website began getting threatening calls, forcing the city to hide that information. That list remains hidden in the current bid documents.
The city has said the statues' removal would be paid for with private money.
Much about what will happen after the statues are moved also remains unclear, including where they will ultimately end up, what will replace them and whether the streets or circles bearing the names of the honorees will be changed.
Asked about those issues Monday, Landrieu spokesman Tyronne Walker said by email, “The administration is solely focused on removing the monuments now that the court has ruled in our favor. We will consider the other matters at a later date."
At the time the City Council voted in December 2015 to remove the statues, Landrieu said the city would try to find a permanent home for them in a museum or park where they can be put in “a fuller context.” Until then, they are likely to be put in storage.
In a statement following Monday’s ruling, Landrieu said that once the monuments are removed, “we will have the opportunity to join together and select new unifying symbols that truly reflect who we are today.” However, the city has not provided any information on what that process would look like or who would be involved.
Landrieu also has floated the idea of creating a commission to review all monuments in the city, though no such group has been set up yet.
Some activists have called for removing the statue of Gen. and President Andrew Jackson from the city's most iconic public park, Jackson Square.