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Private Person Couldn’t Acquire Ownership of Public, Confederate Monument

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

A challenge to the City of New Orleans’ ordinance to remove three Confederate monuments failed because the plaintiff could not prove an ownership interest in the monuments, which had been dedicated to the public and stood on public land.

Background: After a vigorous, six-month debate, the City Council of New Orleans enacted an ordinance that required the City of New Orleans to remove three monuments from outdoor display on public property because they were nuisances. The monuments depict three leaders of the Confederate States of America: General P.G.T. Beauregard, Jefferson Davis, and General Robert E. Lee.

The City Council based its monument removal ordinance on City Code section 146-611, which empowers the council “to determine whether or not any monument, statue, or similar thing honoring or commemorating any person or event that is located on property owned or controlled by the city should be removed from public outdoor display.” Specifically, the council can remove a statue “upon a finding that the thing constitutes a nuisance”---defined, in part, as follows:

“(1) The thing honors, praises, or fosters ideologies which are in conflict with the requirements of equal protection for citizens as provided by the constitution and laws of the United States, the state, or the laws of the city and gives honor or praise to those who participated in the[...]

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