The most recent removal prior to Lee happened early Wednesday morning, when the 102-year-old bronze statue of Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard was removed from the Bayou St. John entrance to City Park.
Landrieu says he listened to people who were opposed to the monuments - in particular, a black mother who wondered what she should tell her little girl when she asked why Robert E. Lee is towering above them.
Earlier, with work underway, Mayor Mitch Landrieu explained the city's reasons for removing the statue and other monuments at a private address. "And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African-Americans - or anyone else - to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person's humanity seems perverse and absurd".
The city of New Orleans plans to take down the confederate statue on Friday, May 18, 2017, completing the southern city's removal of four Confederate-related statues that some called divisive.
While the previous three monuments were removed under cover of darkness in part because workers had received death threats for carrying out the city's plan, Mayor Mitch Landrieu ordered that the monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee be brought down in broad daylight Friday. New Orleans, the largest of all Confederate cities - and one strategically placed at the mouth of the Mississippi River - was later captured in a Union naval assault on May 1, 1862.
At the previous three removals, the statue proponents carried Confederate flags but none were prominently displayed on Friday.
The city has said it will leave intact the marble column where Lee's statue had been and upgrade the circle of land around it.
The Monumental Task Committee, a group that has maintained public statues throughout the city and has led the opposition to the removals, blasted Landrieu in a statement released after Lee came down, calling him a "a politician with self-serving motives (who) launched a toxic crusade to rewrite the city's history". "We can not be afraid of the truth", said Landrieu, who along with other city leaders chose to take down the monuments in 2015, a decision that withstood challenges in federal court. It's an image of Lee standing tall in uniform, with his arms crossed defiantly, looking toward the northern horizon from atop a roughly 60-foot-tall column.
Police on horseback lined up nearby as a security precaution and traffic was diverted away from the area.
In Anderson County, South Carolina ― home to about 42,000 African-Americans ― there's a statue that reads, in part: "The world shall yet decide, in truth's clear, far-off light, that the soldiers who wore the gray, and died with Lee, were in the right".
"I think that would be a win-win for both the city of New Orleans being the donor of those statues here to us and certainly a win for us", he expressed concern.
Many said it was time for the statue to come down. A lawsuit there has stalled that statue's removal for at least six months.
New Orleans will remove a statue on Friday of Confederate military leader Robert E. Lee, the last of four monuments the city is taking down because they have been deemed racially offensive, officials said. The Confederacy was made up of states that attempted to preserve slavery in the South and secede from the United States in the Civil War of 1861 to 1865. Crews also took down a monument memorializing a deadly white supremacist uprising in 1874.
"If you can see history as it happens, it's more meaningful", said Al Kennedy, who supported the removal.