Workers removed another high-profile Confederate monument in New Orleans overnight, lifting a statue of Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard on horseback from its spot at the entrance of City Park.
"Today we take another step in defining our City not by our past but by our bright future", New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement.
Lee's statue comes down Friday, the last of four Confederate-related statues to be removed from public property in the Louisiana city.
Beauregard commanded the attack at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, at the outbreak of the Civil War.
The statue at the main entrance to the 1,300-acre City Park is one of four that the City Council and Mayor Mitch Landrieu have targeted for removal in an attempt to put post-Civil War divisions to rest.
The last Confederate monument scheduled to be removed is the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee, which is located in the center of Lee Circle.
The first three removals took place in the dark of night; workers wore flak jackets as protesters both for and against the process picketed nearby.
While many were supportive of removal, opinions varied widely in the crowd of hundreds that gathered to watch Friday.More news: New Orleans takes down 3rd Confederate-era monument
"For example, to require a vote of people before any of these not just statues or plaques or monuments, but any structure, can be altered or moved".
IL native John Renner, who is white, said the statue should remain because it represents history. "These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for", he said.
Unlike the earlier statues, city officials were taking Lee's statue down in broad daylight. "We as a nation are far enough from this that we ought to acknowledge that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of history". The Monumental Task Committee, a pro-monument group in New Orleans, maintains that the Improvement Association, and not the city, owns the land and therefore the monument.
The city plans to have extra security around the Lee statue Friday morning and will block off a one-block radius around Lee Circle to cars before and during the removal in anticipation of protests.
The City Council agreed in a December 2015 vote to declare the monuments public nuisances, clearing the way for removal. The killer, Dylann Roof, was an avowed racist who brandished Confederate battle flags in photos, recharging the debate over whether Confederate emblems represent racism or an honorable heritage. 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. They also can not be displayed outdoors on public property within the city.
And where the monuments once stood, public art and an American flag are among the pieces that will replace them. The final resting place of Beauregard's statue will be considered separately because of legal issues.
Jesse J. Holland covers race and ethnicity for The Associated Press.