James Brousse plans to spend a good chunk of the next few weeks “protecting” New Orleans’s Confederate monuments from impending demolition, and the 81-year-old has a message for police who will try to keep the peace: You can leave the snipers at home.
Brousse, the commander of the local chapter of Sons of Confederate Veterans, is part of a group of about a dozen people who have stood vigil for the past week at three monuments honoring the Confederacy — landmarks that city leaders say are mostly out of touch with how most residents see their city.
Brousse was at the first protest, surrounded by what he called an “overblown” police presence, holding candles and watching quietly as workers disassembled a monument honoring rebels who tried to overthrow the New Orleans city government after the Civil War.
And Brousse and his ad hoc group (some are members of Sons of Confederate Veterans, though the group has not officially endorsed the protests) are vowing to continue “protecting” the remaining monuments, which honor Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, a Louisiana native.
The desire to deconstruct the monuments came as the city began rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The anti-Confederate sentiment intensified in New Orleans, as it has elsewhere, after nine black churchgoers were killed June 17, 2015, at a church in Charleston, S.C., in a racially motivated massacre. The killer, Dylann Roof, was seen on one website holding a gun in one hand and a Confederate flag in the other.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) has contended that memorials to the defenders of slavery are out of touch with the opinions of most of the city’s residents. The monuments also put some of the most divisive parts of the city’s past in some of its most prominent places, he has said.
SOURCE: Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
The Washington Post