Battle of Liberty Place monument.

Monument New Orleans Would Rather Forget

Field review by the editors.

New Orleans, Louisiana

The so-called "Battle of Liberty Place" happened on September 14, 1874, when members of the Crescent City White League (who were all white) attacked the New Orleans Metropolitan Police (who were white and black). The White League won, New Orleans sank into segregation, and in 1891 the city erected a monument at the foot of Canal Street -- the most prominent spot in the city -- honoring the White League members who had died in the fight. In 1932, with New Orleans even more segregated, an inscription was added to the monument. It said that the Battle was fought for the "overthrow of carpetbag government" and that afterward the Yankees "recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state."

Things stood that way until 1989, when construction on Canal Street forced the monument into storage. By then New Orleans had changed, and most of its civic leaders would have been happy if the Liberty Place monument had stayed in storage forever. But supporters of the White League threatened to sue the city if the monument wasn't returned. A compromise was reached in 1993: the monument was brought back, but it was moved to a "historically accurate" spot, the actual site of the Battle, which turned out to be an obscure piece of land, out of public view, next to a parking garage. The racist inscription from 1932 was covered with a new slab of granite, this one honoring "those Americans on both sides of the conflict who died," and defining the Battle as, "A conflict of the Past that should teach us lessons for the Future."

The success of those lessons is apparently uneven; while we were snapping photos of the monument a woman yelled at us, "That thing used to be on Canal Street -- back when we weren't ashamed of white people!"

Also see: Quirky Monuments of New Orleans

Monument New Orleans Would Rather Forget

Badine St. E., New Orleans, LA
At the foot of Canal St., turn north between the power substation and the train tracks onto Badine St. E. (Look for the overhanging banner "Public Parking"). The monument is at the end of that little street, on the right.
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