Sympathizers of that lost cause have risen up in response.
“A man points at a machine gun held by a statue supporter” was how the New Orleans Times-Picayune captioned a photo from a protective vigil around the monument to Davis, who was president of the Confederacy, on Monday.
The man was holding a high-powered rifle, actually. Not that Gen. Robert E. Lee — whose nearby statue is also slated for removal on an unknown date — would have turned the weapon down at Gettysburg.
Speaking of carnage, here’s the visage of Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard after anti-statue forces attacked on Tuesday.
“The Battle of New Orleans,” they call it — the statues’ defenders and detractors alike. And it may all come to a head Sunday, as plans for rival demonstrations provoke pleas of “reinforcements” from across the country.
“The Trump people are really coming in en masse,” said David Duke, a former KKK leader in Louisiana who many years ago defended a memorial to white supremacists that New Orleans had ripped out last month.
“Also other patriotic groups: Sons of Confederate Veterans, League of the South,” Duke said. “The white people in this country realize there’s a war against our heritage.”
Duke, who lives outside New Orleans, said he had no plans to meet statue foes himself on Sunday, when he thinks they plan to march on the Lee statue. “I don’t want to give them a rallying point,” he said. (Others expect a leftist attack on Davis, and still others worry the city will try to topple another monument over the weekend.)
And also black people, Duke said on the phone.
Of course, the former Klansman does not speak for everyone who would defend a monument to a Confederacy that once defended slavery.
On of the vigil-goers, for example, is black and calls himself “Black Rebel” — a “country boy from Oklahoma who’s not afraid to speak his mind.”
And yet others seem to be in the fight mainly for the sake of a fight, which began years ago as a city council dispute over the place of Rebel monuments in a modern city, and has lately become a clash between Confederate empathizers and so-called antifascists.
“Antifa is planning on marching with about 100 or so memebers to the Jefferson Davis Monument to harrass and attack the monument protectors there,” reads a Facebook call that has so far garnered about 50 pledges to meet the antifascists in response on Sunday.
“Be safe and do nothing to provoke,” a fan told him.
“Take a few out for me,” said another.
Duke, for his part, expected no violence. “People may join hands and arms and protect the monument in great numbers,” he said.
Whoever shows up can expect a large police presence, as there’s been at many vigils to date. “We ask that any public demonstrations remain peaceful and respectful,” the mayor’s spokesperson wrote to The Washington Post. “Lawlessness and destruction of property is not tolerated in the City of New Orleans.”
The defense of New Orleans’s statues is by now a wide and sprawling thing. It’s unclear how many will show up beneath the feet of Jefferson Davis on Sunday, or what they’ll do.
But the Rebel president is already presiding over more contention than he has in a long, long time.