The embattled statue of General Robert E. Lee has quietly stepped down from its position in Lee Circle, a City Hall official said. This comes after allegations arose that the statue had attempted to cover up a scandal involving racism and slavery. It also comes as an appeals court sided with the city of New Orleans in its bid to forcibly remove the former icon from its position of power.
The statue went to City Hall this morning to inform Mayor Mitch Landrieu of its decision, notably before the city could require it to leave.
“After more than 13 decades of service, I have decided to step down,” the Lee statue wrote in its official statement.
“Over my 130 plus years in New Orleans, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of this city. The good has been electrifying, and the ugly made me doubt humanity. Our proud city deserves better, and I have the utmost confidence in Mayor Landrieu’s leadership during this oh so critical matter.”
The statue, having held its position since 1884, became embroiled in controversy after reports surfaced claiming it purposefully misled locals. The allegations said that the statue made people believe it promoted tradition and heritage when it actually symbolized racism and slavery.
While the statue has not admitted guilt and the allegations have thus far not been proven true, it accepted that moving on may be the best course of action.
Landrieu accepted the statue’s resignation and thanked it for “years of rock-solid service.”
“The Robert E. Lee statue made clear to Mayor Landrieu that it believed it was best for it to step aside and for the Mayor to install a new statue that would enable the city to move beyond its current challenges and allow the fine citizens of New Orleans to continue building a brighter future,” said Landrieu spokesman Steve Mayer.
The statue didn’t discuss any specific reasons for stepping down from its post. Although it did defend its overall standing by saying New Orleans is in significantly better shape now than when it first inherited the position.
“It’s been a privilege to stand with the people of New Orleans. We’ve been through a lot together,” the statue said in its statement. “No matter where I end up, I will always be grateful for the opportunity I had here.”
Mayer said that going forward, the city needs to get a statue in place that is more in tune with today’s generations, less stiff when it comes to community involvement, and doesn’t come across as set in its ways.
“We have several excellent candidates that have already applied to fill the vacant Lee Circle position. We won’t leave any stone unturned to get this right.”