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The Clash Over Confederate Monuments in New Orleans Is Intensifying

Photojournalist Abdul Aziz is on the ground as demonstrations escalate.

A monument defender returned to his vehicle to collect ammunition after he heard that a group of protestors had a gun pulled on them near the Jefferson Davis statue.
A monument defender returned to his vehicle to collect ammunition after he heard that a group of protestors had a gun pulled on them near the Jefferson Davis statue. (Abdul Aziz)

Earlier this week, my colleague Brentin Mock spoke with photojournalist Abdul Aziz, who has been capturing the tense atmosphere around New Orleans’s Confederate monuments, which the city has been ordered to remove. The debate has mobilized local activist networks like Take ‘Em Down NOLA, but it’s also brought a number of outsiders into the city—from Confederate defenders who have camped near monuments for a week to self-proclaimed anti-fascist protesters.

These protests have intensified, and CityLab caught up with Aziz to get an update on what it looks like on the ground. ”At one point, the [defenders] armed themselves and stood on the monuments,” he tells CityLab, while counter protestors “were heavily taunting them.” According to Aziz, the police intervened after an hour or so, when they stepped in to encourage everyone to retreat. Aziz’s photographs reveal the extreme clash between the protesters, as escalating tensions have prompted many to enter the fray armed.

Confederate monument supporters react to being escorted out of the chaos, as police direct them to their vehicles. (Abdul Aziz)
A man named Charles, a defender of the Confederate monuments and a New Orleans native, glares into the camera. “I’m here to mourn and say goodbye to the Jefferson Davis monument,” he said. (Abdul Aziz)
A member of the Cajun Army, a civilian group that often mobilizes around disaster relief, shows his solidarity with the counter protesters. (Abdul Aziz)
Demonstrators squared off as a Confederate defender expressed his right to protest. “White supremacy has been on top of a soapbox for too long. It’s time to cut that in half. You don’t get to have free speech when you’re saying hateful things,” his opponent said. (Abdul Aziz)
Arlene Barnum, a Confederate monument supporter, is forced to retreat after being surrounded by counter protesters. Her car tires were slashed. (Abdul Aziz)
A legal observer is arrested after he tried to obtain information about a counter protester who was being arrested. The legal observer was let off with a citation. (Abdul Aziz)
A man who traveled from Mississippi stands in support of the Confederate monuments. (Abdul Aziz)
Confederate defenders Arlene Barnum and Andrew Duncomb, a self-proclaimed “Black Rebel,” retreat after being surrounded by counter protesters. (Abdul Aziz)

Due to the protests, police have barricaded the Jefferson Davis monument, making it inaccessible. The monuments are slated to be dismantled over the next month, but the city will not remove any more of them until after JazzFest, which concludes on Sunday.

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