“I can’t believe this is happening in my city,” said Charles Washmon, a 51-year-old contractor who was standing near a statue of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president, on Thursday. Mr. Washmon, who is white, was part of a group of protesters waving Confederate flags who had been attracting both honks of support and invectives from passing cars all afternoon. Like Mr. Stewart, he feared that removing the statues would deprive a history-laden city of a crucial layer of its past. “It’s a travesty,” Mr. Washmon said.
In December 2015, Mr. Landrieu, a Democrat who will leave office next year because of term limits, signed an ordinance calling for the removal of four monuments related to the Confederacy and its aftermath. It was six months after Dylann Roof, a white supremacist with a fondness for Confederate symbols, massacred nine black people in a church in Charleston, S.C. One of the monuments, an obelisk honoring a violent uprising in 1874 by white New Orleanians who rejected Reconstruction, was taken down on April 24 by workers wearing flak jackets and scarves to conceal their identities.
The unease has only grown since then. Mr. Landrieu has said that the city plans to remove the remaining three monuments — first, the statue of Davis, then those of two Confederate generals, P.G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee — over the course of the next month or so, though he has not announced exact dates. Last week, the statue of Beauregard was slathered in red paint by vandals. And Confederate sympathizers and fans of the statues have been flocking to the city from as far away as New Mexico and Colorado to protest their removal.
On Monday night, defenders of the statues…