New Orleans Mayor discusses race, removal of confederate monuments

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu addressed race relations in an intimate discussion in Washington, D.C.

“When they had a common enemy, when they had a common threat, when they had a common opportunity, there was unity," Landrieu said.

The conversation at the Center for American Progress Friday also touched on the Mayor’s move to remove monuments honoring Confederate generals and soldiers in the city of New Orleans. It's a decision that’s being met with criticism and applause. Landrieu addressed the decision in a recent speech marking the removal of the last of four status. The speech has gained him national attention.

“What we’re seeing in New Orleans I believe right now is people who after having heard this speech are beginning to say I never really thought about it and now that they’re thinking about it you can see them moving into a different space," Landrieu added.

The Mayors meeting in Washington is sparking an open dialogue on race in America. Many related to the challenges Landrieu is talking about.

“I thought it was important to understand how to have a civil dialogue about issues which deeply divide our communities," Gerry Warburg a professor at the University of Virginia said.

Gerry Warburg lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. A city that’s facing its’ own unrest over the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. Landrieu had this advice for Charlottesville and other communities in Louisiana following New Orleans lead.

“Make sure they follow whatever the rules and regulations are. Before they do that they might want to think about having a robust community discussion. Now, in my experience not a lot of people change their minds during these discussions so at some point in time the question has to be called," Landrieu said.

Many disagree with Landrieu’s decision. Louisiana Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-LA-5) shared with us this statement in response to the Mayor’s discussion Friday.

"The removal of monuments depicting veterans should be decided on the state level, and it should be decided by a vote of the people who live in that state.”

He continues, “I’d much rather Mayor Landrieu spend his time back home working to solve the real issues facing the city instead of giving speeches in DC. New Orleans has some very serious problems that must be solved, and removing these monuments won’t solve them."

Landrieu’s decision is currently facing mounting opposition in New Orleans.
As the Republican controlled statehouse looks to block the removals.

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