New Orleans removes 1st of 4 Confederate statues that 'revere white supremacy'

New Orleans removes 1st of 4 Confederate statues that 'revere white supremacy'
A prominent symbol of the confederate legacy in the southern United States was removed Monday morning by masked workers wearing bulletproof vests and under heavy police protection.

The Liberty Monument in New Orleans has been removed following a 2015 city council vote to take down a total of four statues associated with the confederate movement but a series of lawsuits had prevented any action until now.

"There's a better way to use the property these monuments are on and a way that better reflects who we are," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu told the Associated Press on Sunday.

The city has refused to name the contractors who are carrying out the four removals as there have been multiple threats of violence and intimidation. Work will take place at night to ensure police can sufficiently secure each site while minimizing the impact to traffic flows through the city.

"All of what we will do in the next days will be designed to make sure that we protect everybody, that the workers are safe, the folks around the monuments are safe and that nobody gets hurt," Landrieu added.

Statues to Confederate Generals Robert E Lee and PGT Beauregard and Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis will also be removed over the coming weeks, according to a statement by the mayor’s office.

"They're actually a denial of our history and they were done in a time when people who still controlled the Confederacy were in charge of this city. It only represents a four-year period in our 1000-year march to where we are today," Landrieu said when asked about the historical significance of the statues to the city of New Orleans.

The Liberty Place monument previously stirred up controversy and revealed simmering tensions when the city moved the statue from its original location in 1989 for a federal paving project.

The debate over confederate symbolism across the United States reached fever pitch in 2015 after White supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African-American parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina.

South Carolina removed the confederate flag from its statehouse grounds in the aftermath of the incident, with several other states considering similar action. Students at the University of Mississippi also voted to remove the flag from university campus grounds.