Leaders react to peaceful demonstrations following monument takedown

Leaders react to peaceful demonstrations following monument takedown
It was a very different scene, today, as dozens gathered in Congo Square for what organizers dubbed a vigil for lives lost on Saturday evening. (Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - It was a very different scene, today, as dozens gathered in Congo Square for what organizers dubbed a vigil for lives lost on Saturday evening.

Pastor Gregory Manning led a second line towards Jackson Square.

For the enslaved who once congregated here in Congo Square, people sang. They made offerings and laid wreaths and flowers.

Pastor Manning says the event was about bringing people together in unity, love and hope and had nothing to do with politics.

Though Manning warned attendees against making demands and shouting, he recognized the symbolism Jackson Square has for some.

“The stronghold over the city that Andrew Jackson represented and every other monument that is a leftover of racism needs to be torn down and needs to be demolished,” Manning said.

Protesters got rid of one of them, Saturday prying the bust of benefactor and slaveowner John McDonogh from its pedestal in Duncan Plaza before transporting it to the Mississippi River and throwing it in.

New Orleans Council Member Jay Banks, along with three others, penned a letter in response to the monument's unorthodox removal, condemning the demonstrator’s actions but not their sentiment.

“Please, don't get it confused. I'm not suggesting that they stay. What I'm suggesting is that we have a process for removal and by having that process, It does not give the detractors an opportunity to say, look, look what they did,” Banks said.

While Manning says he supports the monuments' removal by any means necessary, he aims for conversation.

“Once we are done with the screaming and yelling and all of that people will make way for everybody to sit down at the table of brotherhood together,” Manning said.

New Orleans City Councilmembers are expected to introduce a motion this Thursday, creating a commission to help rid of streets, parks and other places in New Orleans that honor former slave owners through a public process.

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