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In this Sept. 2, 2015 photo, the Liberty Place monument is seen in downtown New Orleans. Prominent Confederate monuments long taken for granted on the streets of this Deep South city may be on the verge of coming down and become new examples of a mood taking hold nationwide to erase racially charged symbolism from public view. This week and next, the City Council will take up the issue of removing four monuments linked to Confederate history. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

New Orleans is tearing down its Confederate monuments, starting with the 'most offensive'


WATCH | Officials remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

New Orleans is tearing down its Confederate monuments, starting with the 'most offensive'

ORIGINAL STORY: New Orleans city workers started tearing down one of four prominent Confederate monuments early Monday morning, a move hailed by some as a victory for diversity and criticized by others as an erasure of history.

The Liberty Place Monument, an 1891 obelisk honoring the Crescent City White League, was the first to go. Mayor Mitch Landrieu said it was the "most offensive of the four" and that it was built to "revere white supremacy." The CCWL attempted to overthrow a biracial government during post-Civil War Reconstruction. 

Here's a look at the teardown.

Here's the city's statement on the decision.

The monuments are an aberration. They're actually a denial of our history.
Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans mayor

Critics like Civil War re-enactor Robert Bonner said the teardown, planned since 2015, erased a part of the city's history.

"I think it's a terrible thing," he said. "When you start removing the history of the city, you start losing money. You start losing where you came from and where you've been."

Bonner wasn't alone in that sentiment.

The controversy surrounding the monuments may have inspired a heavy police response. reported snipers were stationed near the monument during the teardown. Other monuments attracted protesters.

Police presence remained significant throughout the teardown.

A protester waves a Confederate battle flag in front of the South Carolina statehouse, Thursday, July 9, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. More than 50 years after South Carolina raised a Confederate flag at its Statehouse to protest the civil rights movement, the rebel banner is scheduled to be removed Friday morning during a ceremony. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

In nearby Mississippi and Alabama, Monday marks Confederate Memorial Day, a holiday that closes state government offices. The controversial holiday commemorates the soldiers who died fighting for the South in the Civil War. 

Three other statues that honor Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T Beauregard and Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis will also be torn down in the near future. 

The city council voted to remove the statues by a 6-1 vote in 2015 after nine people were shot and killed at a historically black church in South Carolina, The shooting reignited the debate over the role of the Confederate flag and its history. Legal battles hindered the statues' removal.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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