Commission proposed to rename Gov. Nicholls Street, other city roads following protests

(Photo: Infrogmation | CC)
New Orleans City Councilmembers on Thursday are slated to consider an ordinance that would create a commission to rename certain streets, a proposal that comes amid recent calls from grassroots organizations to remove so-called symbols of white supremacy throughout the city.

The proposed ordinance followed demands by Take ‘Em Down NOLA during a Thursday press conference at City Hall and protest against racism and police brutality held at Duncan Plaza.

The ordinance would create a commission of nine appointed members who will have an advisory role in renaming certain streets, including Governor Nicholls Street, which runs just over a mile and a half from Treme through the French Quarter.

The street was named after Francis T. Nicholls, a Confederate Army general who served two nonconsecutive terms as Louisiana’s 28th governor following the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Other streets targeted for renaming including Claiborne and Tulane avenues, Galvez and Poydras streets and General Taylor Street.

Additionally, Take ‘Em Down NOLA identified several other French Quarter locations it says bear white supremacist names, including statues of Bienville, Edward Douglass White statue, Andrew Jackson, the KIPP McDonogh School for the Creative Arts and a plaque at Washington Artillery Park denoting that its cannon “served the Confederacy in two theaters” of the Civil War.

The council’s virtual meeting can be viewed via live stream here starting at 10 a.m. and public comment can be submitted here.

Take ‘Em Down NOLA demands New Orleans remove Andrew Jackson statue

(Photo: Jeff Turner | CC)
A local grassroots organization whose efforts contributed to the removal of several Confederate statues in New Orleans demanded the city also take down Andrew Jackson during a protest in Duncan Plaza on Thursday.

During a speech on the steps of City Hall, members of Take ‘Em Down NOLA issued several demands, including the immediate release of a timeline for the removal of the Andrew Jackson statue in the French Quarter.

Other demands included abolishing police and having a community-led process of removing symbols considered to be white supremacist, including the names of schools, parks and street names.

Thursday morning’s rally was just one of several in the last week sparked by the death of George Floyd, who died on May 25 following a video-recorded encounter of a Minneapolis Police officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

A person was shot shortly after 11:30 a.m. on the back side of the plaza as the rally occurred, although the shooting was unrelated, according to New Orleans Police.

For the last two weeks, protesters in dozens of states have taken to the streets demanding an end to racism, police brutality, inequality and economic injustice.

“We’re also talking about the ways in which symbolic white supremacist racism reflects itself inside of the system—the economic system and the social system that governs New Orleans,” one member said. “This is not a new conversation. This conversation has been in existence for at least a century since these monuments came up.

“We won’t get no satisfaction until we take down Andrew Jackson,” he said.

A video of the speech can be viewed here.

During the speech, a speaker labeled Jackson a “warmonger.”

Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States and a slaveholder who opposed abolitionism.

Before becoming president, Jackson was a general and a politician who served in both houses of Congress. He led the United States to victory in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, which took place more than two weeks following the formal end to the War of 1812.

Following the battle, Jackson commanded U.S. troops in a series of skirmishes against the Seminole tribe in Northern Florida. After he became president, his administration forced the removal of 60,000 Native Americans from the southeastern U.S. to territory west of the Mississippi River in the Trail of Tears.

Jackson died in 1845 and a statue of him riding atop a horse was erected in 1856 in the square called Place d’Armes, which was renamed Jackson Square.

Take Em Down Nola was instrumental in the 2017 removal of four Confederate statues in New Orleans, including Lee, Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard and the Battle of Liberty Place Monument.

The movement to remove the statues began following the 2015 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Instead, the group wants “revolutionary black and brown leaders” to replace the statues.

Thousands gather in Jackson Square to protest police brutality following George Floyd killing


Thousands gather in Jackson Square to protest police brutality following George Floyd killing

(Photos: New Orleans Police Department, Contributed)
Thousands gathered to protest against police brutality in the French Quarter on Friday following the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis Police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest on May 25.

The incident was captured on a viral cell phone video and subsequently spawned several rounds of protests in New Orleans and many more that continue throughout the world more than two weeks after Floyd’s death.

Protesters gathered in front of St. Louis Cathedral early Friday evening and the crowd continue to grow for several more minutes until it expanded onto Decatur Street and Washington Artillery Park, where the main gathering was held.

The peaceful gathering lasted for approximately two hours and included numerous public speakers who decried racism and police violence.

A second gathering of protesters marched peacefully through the French Quarter on Saturday, walking down Esplanade Avenue to North Rampart Street before dispersing at Bienville Street.

In anticipation of the gatherings, the city closed access to Jackson Square proper, which contains the statue of Battle of New Orleans General and seventh U.S. President Andrew Jackson.

The Jackson statue had been the target of Take ‘Em Down NOLA, an activist group that advocates for its removal because its symbolization of white supremacy.

Additionally, several businesses were seen boarded-over, although it was difficult to tell whether it was because of Tropical Storm Cristobal or to prepare in the event the protest devolved into civil unrest.

But despite the rumors of possibly violence or civil unrest in the French Quarter, no such incidents were reported and the NOPD thanked demonstrators for the peaceful protest.

The NOPD closed most of Decatur Street, except for a portion in between Toulouse and Dumaine streets in order to accommodate the protest. Hardly any police were seen, a contrast from last Wednesday’s confrontational protest on the Crescent City Connection Bridge.

The June 3 large group of protesters gathered on Highway 90 and attempted to cross the bridge over the Mississippi River before the NOPD deployed tear gas and other non-lethal ammunition.