2 arrested for spraying graffiti as New Orleans dismantles its 3rd Confederate monument
New Orleans police said they arrested the man as they were spraying graffiti in red lettering on the base of the monument that read “Gen. Beauregard CSA.”
Other side of Beauregard monument remains pic.twitter.com/BfYpQdTcU5— Dan Swenson (@NolaGraphicsGuy) May 17, 2017
CSA is the acronym for Confederate States of America.
Man apparently being arrested right now at the Beauregard monument site. Graffiti present pic.twitter.com/U7ZS41EJpa— Dan Swenson (@NolaGraphicsGuy) May 17, 2017
Earlier that morning, workers contracted by the city had removed a statute of the Confederate general riding a horse.
The two men arrested, Michael and Christopher Kimbell, were charged with “criminal damage to historical buildings or landmarks by defacing with graffiti,” according to police spokesman Aaron Looney. The father and the son are both residents of Louisiana.
The statue of General Beauregard, a New Orleans native who fought for the Confederacy during the 1861-65 war that cost 600,000 lives, was lifted off its base shortly before 3am Wednesday, with workers wearing helmets and covering their faces.
All that's left of the Beauregard monument. pic.twitter.com/0ZYROt5X3U— Danny Monteverde (@DCMonteverde) May 17, 2017
“Today we take another step in defining our city not by our past but by our bright future,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement to the press. “While we must honor our history, we will not allow the Confederacy to be put on a pedestal in the heart of New Orleans.”
The City Council voted 6-1 in 2015 to remove the monuments after a succession of contentious public meetings where impassioned monument supporters and opponents heckled each other.
Contractors covered their faces and wore bulletproof vests and helmets for safety while removing the first two memorials, to The White Rebellion and Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
During the removal of The White Rebellion, police arrested multiple protesters who were charged with disturbing the peace, after a scuffle occurred at an event celebrating the removal of the memorial.
Local media displayed images of protesters waving Confederate battle flags, while their opponents stood nearby peacefully.
Supporters of the monuments’ removal argue they represent a shameful part of the city and country’s history, and pay honor to a history of slavery and segregation.
MONUMENT MEN: A pro-monument group keeps vigil around the PGT Beauregard statue. pic.twitter.com/V2QVQ7R6tW— Keith Esparros (@kesparros) May 7, 2017
Those wanting to keep the monument argue in favor of their historical significance.
“Mitch Landrieu removed a monument to P.G.T. Beauregard, arguably the most historically significant Creole to ever live," said Pierre McGraw, President of the Monumental Task Committee, in a Facebook post. "The city's refusal to wait until the ownership of the Beauregard Monument could be determined by a court of law proves how non-transparent this process has been. How the city can get away with moving a 102-year-old monument, against the advice of the Lt. Governor and Attorney General, and without first proving ownership, defies any sort of logic."
The Beauregard statue was the third Confederate-era memorial the city has removed. Officials have also pledged to take down a monument to General Robert E. Lee. The city has not given a time frame for Lee’s removal due to “intimidation, threats, and violence, serious safety concerns remain.”
Landrieu called for the memorials to be removed following the emotional aftermath of the Charleston church shootings. Dylann Roof, an avowed white supremacist, shot and killed nine black parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Shortly after the massacre, a website Roof made was discovered. The website contained pictures of the killer posing with the Confederate battle flag in photos, recharging the debate over whether Confederate emblems represent racism or an honorable heritage.