Today’s Take Em Down Action has come as a result of a long struggle to remove symbols to white supremacy from the landscape of New Orleans. We don’t want to erase history. We want to promote accurate history. We believe that symbols that honor, celebrate, and promote those who oppress others during the course of history have no place in public space.
Take Em Down NOLA is committed to the removal of ALL symbols to white supremacy in New Orleans as a necessary part of the struggle toward racial and economic justice. We believe that systems of oppression must be dismantled, while systems that promote the over-all well being of humanity must be built. It is not one or the other, it is BOTH.
Having symbols of genocidal murderers, rapists, and colonizers all over New Orleans is dangerous. It promotes murder, rape and colonization/displacement. The racist monuments of New Orleans promote exactly what white supremacists want, so they can have an excuse to keep investing in reactive measures that fill the pockets of current day oppressors.
If the mayor and city council of New Orleans will not publically denounces symbols that honor white supremacy AND REMOVE them, to include those in the French Quarter (a major tourist destination), then we will continue to publically denounce and protest white supremacy in New Orleans. We are fully prepared to start an all out boycott of the French Quarter in New Orleans, if need be.
New Orleans acquires at least $7 billion in revenue from tourism. This is possible because of the nearly 70,000 mostly low wage workers that keep the city operating. However, in New Orleans, there are also at least 52% of unemployed Black males, nearly 50% of children living in poverty, and the city profiles poor Black lives to fill jails and prisons, making Louisiana the state with the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. Louisiana has more people in jail and prison than entire countries. Police and white people are not held to the same standard of accountability for committing crimes, even violence crimes.
In New Orleans, we are experiencing a state of emergency!!! Today’s action proves that the system protects monuments, but has no regard for proactively, consistently protecting Black lives … in a predominately Black city. Under these circumstances, it is a slap in the face of all people who believe in equity and justice that Andrew Jackson exists elevated and celebrated in the heart of the French Quarter. Until removed, Andrew Jackson in Jackson square will be the focus of ongoing public protests.
Protesting injustice in New Orleans in 2016 becomes even more critical because current day white supremacists are allowed to continue making threats to peaceful protestors. It is the white supremacists who hold New Orleans hostage from growth and progress. Take Em Down NOLA focused on equity, toward racial and economic justice in spite of the mayor’s hesitation and city council’s compliance with the desires of wealthy racists who refuse to allow progress to occur. Take Em Down NOLA has two simple demands:
1) We demand that the city of New Orleans do what it said it was going to do, and remove the monuments to Robert E. Lee, Beauregard, Jefferson Davis, and The so-called Liberty Monument to White Supremacy (along with ALL other monuments to white supremacy in the French Quarter, including Andrew Jackson).
2) We demand that the city of New Orleans reallocate (or use their influence to raise) $5 million dollars per year to Take Em Down NOLA’s Build Em Up NOLA initiative which consists of two components:
a) An educational mentorship youth program to create jobs for local Black youth, local Black historians, and local Black artists to research their own history, write their own narratives, and create their own artistic images that reflect freedom, equity, and resistance to oppression. These efforts will support and compliment part (b) below.
b) The funds will also support the “markers project”, which will erect historical markers that accurately inform the public of New Orleans history, whether pertaining to the economic slave trade, acts of resistance to oppression, or great achievement by people of African ancestry.
The reason that Take Em Down NOLA demands these resources, is because most monuments to white supremacy in New Orleans were erected by white supremacist who had/have generational wealth built on the backs of people of African people who were forced to provided free labor. We need this effort to help combat and reverse the consequences of internalize racism that has been and still is pervasive in New Orleans, as a result of systemic racism and oppression.
We are calling on the city of New Orleans to divest the needed funds from the city budget, and or the community development fund to proactively support community based programs and services that can build up the Black community.