Contractors in New Orleans took down a statue of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis on Thursday, the second of four Confederate monuments slated for removal in the city.
In reaction to death threats against the workers, the removal took place in the dark and under police watch. Despite the early hour, over a hundred supporters and protestors were present, NPR reports.
New Orleans City Council first approved an ordinance allowing the removal of four Confederate monuments in December of 2015. The statue of Davis, who was president of the Confederate States during the Civil War and a senator from Mississippi, comes down after a hard-fought legal battle.
"Each time that citizens walk by, see pictures of, or perhaps even think about the monument, they might be more likely to evaluate black people more harshly than if they had not."
"These monuments have stood not as historic or educational markers of our legacy of slavery and segregation, but in celebration of it," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement. "I believe we must remember all of our history, but we need not revere it."
There is evidence to suggest these monuments are more than neutral reminders of Civil War history. A 2010 study showed that the Confederate flag evokes anti-black sentiment among whites, which could extend to other symbols.
"To the degree that it is clear and well-known within a community that the monument celebrates the same culture as that associated with the Confederate flag, each time that citizens walk by, see pictures of, or perhaps even think about the monument, they might be more likely to evaluate black people more harshly than if they had not," Joyce Ehrlinger, assistant professor at Washington State University and a researcher on the 2010 study, writes in an email exchange. "Removing the statue will lead to less exposure and, consequently, less of this negative bias."
The Davis statue's removal follows the Battle of Liberty Place monument, which commemorated a clash between white protestors and city police. Statues of Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard remain; the local non-profit Monumental Task Committee is bringing a new lawsuit to protect the latter.