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8 May, 2017 16:33

3 arrested in New Orleans as tempers flare over fate of Confederate monuments

3 arrested in New Orleans as tempers flare over fate of Confederate monuments

More than 700 protesters faced off at a demonstration over the fate of Confederate monuments in New Orleans. Three protesters were arrested and charged with disturbing the peace, according to the authorities.

Police erected barriers to separate the two groups at the demonstration near Lee Circle in New Orleans on Sunday. Officers broke up a couple of fights at the dueling protests, leading to three arrests.

Streets were closed for a one-block radius around the site. While Louisiana is an open-carry state, police officials had warned that guns would be banned at the protest, citing a city ordinance. Police said no one was arrested for violating prohibitions on carrying weapons and wearing masks at public demonstrations.

The city plans on removing three remaining Confederate monuments.

A march led by Take ‘Em Down NOLA, which brought more than 500 supporters is pressing for the removal of the Confederate monuments, believing they honor racism and white supremacy.

Hundreds of people chanted slogans of “Go home racists,” and “Hey hey, ho, ho, white supremacy’s got to go.”

“We feel it’s important people know that these symbols of white supremacy coming down is a time to celebrate,” Angela Kinlaw, an organizer with the group, told the Times-Picayune.

The fight has inspired students in an animation workshop, working with artist, Martha Colburn, at Xavier University, to propose ideas for the removal and replacement of Confederate statues in New Orleans.

Monument supporters, carrying Confederate flags, shouted over the megaphone “We built this country. If you don’t like it, there are plenty of other non-white countries you can go to!”

“I love this city,” Shane Morlas, a New Oreleans resident told the Times-Picayune. “I love the monuments, and I love history. Consider me a guardian.”

Businessman Frank Stewart, who is a member of the preservationist group Monument Task Committee, took out a two-page ad last week in the New Orleans Advocate -- one of Louisiana's largest newspapers by circulation – to express his opposition to Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s plans to remove the remaining monuments.

“I ask you, Mitch, should the Pyramids in Egypt be destroyed since they were built entirely from slave labor?” he wrote.

Stewart equates the removal of Confederate statues to an Orwellian attempt to erase history, according to the New York Times. He has argued the removal process is happening before lawmakers had a chance to be heard.

New Orleans officials have not released a time line yet for when it plans to remove the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T beauregard, but has said they could come down “anytime, sooner rather than later.”

Landrieu, a Democrat who will leave office next year because of term limits, signed an ordinance in December 2015 calling for the removal of four monuments related to the Confederacy and its aftermath.

It was six months after Dylann Roof, a white supremacist with a fondness for Confederate symbols, massacred nine black people in a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

One of the monuments, a tribute to the Battle of Liberty Place, an obelisk honoring a violent uprising in 1874 by white New Orleanians who rejected Reconstruction, was taken down on April 24 by workers wearing flak jackets and scarves to conceal their identities under the cover of night.