On Wednesday June 24th, 2015 New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called for the removal of the Lee Circle Monument. In doing so, he joined a national movement to remove the many public symbols that represent America’s upholding of White supremacy.
This conversation has been bolstered by the massacre in Charleston, an egregious act fueled by overt racism. While the sentiment is appreciated, we would like the Mayor and the city at large to know that much like our demands to end the state sanctioned violence against Black and Brown bodies – the call to remove racist symbolism from our city is far from new.
We are challenging the Mayor and the People of New Orleans to deepen the conversation and engagement around issues affecting the Black community,not just when it becomes politically advantageous to do so but every moment of every day.
Recently Mayor Landrieu went on record saying “If we really thought that black lives matter if we really thought that were true, all the people that are marching for whatever they are marching for would also be marching for the 7,000 black boys that were killed last year.” In making such a sweeping indictment of a movement, Mayor Landrieu reiterated an overused and dehumanizing argument that attempts to conflate the issues of state sanctioned violence and so-called Black on Black violence. State sanctioned violence is violence against Black bodies that is sanctioned by the state. It is what the #BlackLivesMatter movement was created in direct response to and what BYP100 New Orleans is actively fighting against. Black on Black violence is a misleading phrase designed to depict Black people as disproportionately violent towards one another, rather than addressing systemic oppression that creates and fuels that violence.
The people Marching for the liberation of Black and Brown New Orleanians are the same people registering their peers to vote, showing up at city council meetings and actively working towards equity in a Country dredged in White supremacy that is fighting us every step of the way. We have always been here Mayor Landrieu, whether you choose to see us or not.
On Saturday July 4th we will conduct our 2nd burial of the Confederate Flag on the footsteps of the Robert E. Lee monument, We will at that time engage in a critical conversation around the removal of all symbols of White supremacy in our city.
This conversation will involve key players in the community that have been contributing to this work for years. It will bring together some of New Orleans’ most passionate and well-learned citizens to consolidate a critical mass that will ultimately buttress and keep accountable the Mayor’s efforts to have the racist monuments taken down and replaced. BYP100 NOLA and the many people in New Orleans that we stand in solidarity with intend to remain a pivotal part of this conversation that the Mayor has recently joined.
Mayor Landrieu, we both challenge and invite you to come be a part of this day, to hear our stories and participate in a community driven process. We look forward to standing in solidarity on the 4th.
– BYP100 New Orleans
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