NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Louisiana Supreme Court has moved a statue of Edward Douglass White Jr. from its front steps. White was the ninth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and was the only Louisiana justice ever on that court until Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation this year. He also fought for white supremacy and upheld racial segregation laws.
Protesters and most members of the New Orleans City Council have called for removing the larger-than-life statue.
The statue was moved from its pedestal on Wednesday and a court spokesman said it will be placed indoors, near the court’s museum, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported.
“We’re happy to see that it’s no longer in public view but also disappointed they would have the temerity to put it inside to try to satisfy those who want to celebrate its white supremacist history,” Malcolm Suber, one of the leaders of the activist group Take ’Em Down NOLA, told the newspaper. “We don’t think he should be honored in any kind of way, so we will continue our fight.”
Court spokesman Robert Gunn did not say why the statue is being moved, only that the justices decided unanimously that it should be.
“A brief factual statement about Chief Justice White’s accomplishments and his legacy to contextualize his judicial service will be displayed near the statue,” he said.
Security fences have protected the statue since large demonstrations against it in June.
White was a teenager when he fought in the Confederate army and 29 when he fought in a deadly white supremacist uprising in 1874, during Reconstruction. He was a U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1894 until his death in 1921, voting with the majority on Plessy v. Ferguson and other decisions upholding racial segregation and stripping Black Americans of civil rights.
Most of the City Council asked in August for the statue’s removal, calling its prominent placement an affront to the idea of equality before the law. The statue is state property but is under the control of the clerk of the state Supreme Court.
Four Confederate monuments were taken down during the previous administration.
New Orleans officials recently stripped the name of Confederate President Jeff Davis from the street running along a historically Black university and named it for the school’s retired longtime president. The council is working to rename streets and other civic spaces.