Students join Take ‘Em Down NOLA protests

Brandi Doyal, Senior Staff Reporter & Canela Lopez

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Instead of preparing for a tailgate this Saturday, a group of approximately 50 Tulane students marched through the streets of New Orleans alongside community organizers from Take ‘Em Down NOLA, protesting controversial monuments erected throughout the city.

At 1 p.m., over 200 people gathered in Congo Square to march to Jackson Square in protest of statues in the city of New Orleans which many believe represent white supremacy. Take ‘Em Down NOLA — a group dedicated to the removal of these monuments — organized the march over the past month through community forums and social media.

Seven protesters were arrested during the course of the protest. Six protesters were booked for disturbing the peace, and one for illegal carry of a weapon which was later identified as a box cutter.

During Take ‘Em Down NOLA’s community forum on Aug. 17, organizers discussed bringing chains and attempting to remove the Andrew Jackson statue by force.

Sophomore Sam Barton, the student liaison between Take ‘Em Down NOLA and the Tulane community, informed Tulane activists about the rally and mobilized students to Congo Square for the event. Members from Tulane Black Student Union, Students Organizing Against Racism, Amnesty International, Divest Tulane and Feminist Alliance for Students at Tulane were among those contacted by Barton.

Take ‘Em Down NOLA’s main demand is the removal of several statues, including the Robert E. Lee monument at Lee Circle, the General P.G.T. Beauregard statue at City Park, the Jefferson Davis monument in Mid-City and the Liberty Monument in the Central Business District along with other statues in the French Quarter including the Andrew Jackson monument in Jackson Square.

“Having symbols of genocidal murderers, rapists, and colonizers all over New Orleans is dangerous,” Take ‘Em Down NOLA organizers wrote in a statement. “It promotes murder, rape and colonization/displacement. The racist monuments of New Orleans promote exactly what white supremacists want….”

Former Knights of the Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and current U.S. Senate candidate David Duke held a small counter protest.

“I also thought it was really telling that David Duke and a small army of white supremacists came to protect these monuments,” Barton said. “A lot of people say that Andrew Jackson has nothing to do with white supremacy: well clearly a former Grand Wizard of the [KKKK] and his supporters disagree.”

Chants of “We can’t get no satisfaction till they take down Andrew Jackson” could be heard throughout the march. Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States, and is widely considered as the forefather of the modern Democratic party. Andrew Jackson has also been linked to themes of white supremacy and considered responsible for the Trail of Tears.

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments regarding the city council’s decision to remove the monuments. A decision is expected in the coming weeks. The Andrew Jackson statue was not one of the four voted on for removal by the city council earlier this year.

“If our children do not know we fought against oppression, they will believe we are supposed to comply to oppression,”one organizer from Take ‘Em Down NOLA said to the crowd. “It’s time for a change, y’all.” 

One of the activists, Caroline Lutkewitte, founder of Feminist Alliance of Students at Tulane, said she feels it is important for more Tulane students to be engaged with issues that affect the New Orleans community.  

“So everyone talks about this Tulane bubble, and now being a senior I can say it is very real,” Lutkewitte said. “I think that the bubble goes beyond just our social sphere, but also us as human beings and our interactions with actual New Orleans locals. It is really important to not only physically get off Tulane’s campus, but in a thought perspective as well.”