The city of New Orleans said that it would remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, which has sat atop a large column in the area.

Lee Circle has been a focal point for citizens of the city for more than 130 years, with many not paying attention to the historic significance or controversy of the monument to the general that led the Confederate Army against Union Troops.

That history has become a focus for both pro and anti-monument groups.

A crowd of perhaps 200 people were gathered at the circle Thursday night. There were several Confederate battle flags, some American flags and a small band of drummers who led the anti-monument people with a chant of “Take ‘Em Down.”

Without the barricades to separate the two groups, the drummers and dancers edged close to the pro-monument crowd, who remained stoic.

“We want him to stay here,” said Robert Bonner, a supporter of the Lee statue. “We know he’s going to come down, but that’s not going to stop us. We want a voice.”

“I wanted this to be seen with their own eyes,” said DeMirah Howard, who supports the monuments being removed. “It’s not good for our children to view it (the memorial).”

“I can see how it’s painful for a large segment of our population, and we don’t need that,” said Anne Lousteau. “It’s been up there a long time and it celebrates something that we don’t value as much anymore.”

For his part, Bonner, who said his family has a long lineage in New Orleans, and whose father fought in several wars, said he believes the takedown of the monument will be emotional.

“I tell you what it felt like with the other ones,” he said. “I cried… Where’s it going to stop?”

Erected in 1884, Lee’s is the last of four monuments to Confederate-era figures to be removed in accordance with a 2015 City Council vote.

The city removed a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis last week; a statue of Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard on Wednesday; and a monument memorializing a deadly 1874 white-supremacist uprising in April.

Unlike the first three statues, city officials plan to take Lee’s statue down during the day, with Mayor Mitch Landrieu planning a major speech Friday afternoon to explain his reasoning.

In a news release obtained by The Associated Press, the city said the statues were “erected decades after the Civil War to celebrate the ‘Cult of the Lost Cause,’ a movement recognized across the South as celebrating and promoting white supremacy.”


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