Hours after the New Orleans City Council and its mayor Mitch Landrieu signed an ordinance last week to remove four Confederate monuments, a coalition of preservation groups as well the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued to block their removal. The federal lawsuit, filed Thursday in New Orleans, said the monuments’ removal violated local law, federal law, the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution, according to the ABA Journal.
“Plaintiffs have a First Amendment right to free expression, free speech and free
association, which they exercise by maintaining and preserving the historic character and nature of the City of New Orleans, including their monuments, and by using the monuments as the location for events commemorating individuals and events critical to the outcome of the Civil War,” the challengers — Monumental Task Committee, Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana and the Beauregard Camp No. 130, a local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans — wrote in the suit.
The mayor’s office confirmed the city would hold-off on removing the monuments as the case proceeds, NOLA.com reported, and an initial hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 14.
By a 6-1 vote, the New Orleans City Council approved a measure that would remove statues of Gens. Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard, CSA President Jefferson Davis, as well as the city’s Battle of Liberty Place obelisk, which memorializes a failed revolt by the Crescent City White League against the Reconstruction state government, according to 4WWL News. Landrieu had been pushing for the monuments’ removal since the shooting at an African-American church in South Carolina that killed nine church-goers, which prompted states and institutions across the country to reconsider their Confederate monuments.
In addition to Landrieu, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony R. Foxx and other federal officials were named as defendants in the suit.