Lawsuit filed to prevent removal of Confederate-era monuments

FILE-In this In this Sept. 2, 2015 file photo, the Robert E. Lee Monument is seen in Lee Circle in New Orleans. New Orleans is poised to make a sweeping break with its Confederate past as it contemplates removing prominent Confederate monuments now standing on some of its busiest streets. On Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, the City Council is set to vote on an ordinance to remove four monuments. A majority of council members and the mayor support the move, which would be one of the strongest gestures yet by American city to sever ties with Confederate history. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) – Hours after Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed a controversial ordinance to declare four Confederate monuments a public nuisance, a group of preservationists filed a federal lawsuit looking to stop their removals before they can begin.

The plaintiffs’ move was likely planned well ahead of time and something the Landrieu administration expected, with a city spokesman noting in an afternoon news release that the administration recognized at least one monument, the Battle of Liberty Place obelisk, is protected under a prior federal ruling.

The plaintiffs are asking a federal judge to issues a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction and permanent injunction against Landrieu and the city, “barring them from removing, disassembling, placing into storage or tampering in any way with” the Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and Liberty Place monuments.

Filing the suit were the Monumental Task Committee, which recently called for keeping the monuments in place, the Louisiana Landmarks Society, Foundation for Historical Louisiana and Beauregard Camp No. 130.

“The Lee Monument, the Beauregard equestrian monument, the Jefferson Davis monument and the Liberty Monument were explicitly erected to preserve, foster and promote the historic and cultural origins of the citizens of New Orleans and the residents of Louisiana,” the suit reads.

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