Union concerned about firefighters helping remove Confederate monument

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(Thanks to reader Tom Dransfield for sending along this story.)

Richard Rainey, NOLA.com:

Social media rumors boiled into the physical realm Wednesday (April 26) as the leader of the New Orleans firefighters union confirmed that Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration used five or six city firefighters in the dismantling of the Battle of Liberty Place monument at the foot of Iberville Street early Monday.

A work crew wearing masks, tactical helmets and flak jackets used bucket cranes to scale the obelisk and take it apart in sections so that it could be placed on a flatbed trailer and taken to an undisclosed city warehouse.

“The bottom line is with these Confederate monuments, it’s not really something we deal with as firefighters,” New Orleans Fire Fighters Associations President Nick Felton said, addressing reporters after almost an hour inside City Hall speaking with Landrieu’s team. “We should not be in riot gear. We should not be doing police-type work and we are absolutely concerned, you know, that that type of thing is going on.”

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Late Tuesday night, the firefighter’s union issued a statement denying any rank-and-file firefighters were used to help remove the monument.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has said the city would not use its own resources to remove the monuments, but claims about firefighters that had swirled before and after the Liberty Place monument led some to question that claim.

City Hall released a statement after Felton’s press conference that indicated firefighters were on the scene as part of a security plan the night the monument was taken down. The statement did not specify if the firefighters were there for medical support or worked as part of the crew that disassembled the stone monument.

“The emergency response agencies and essential city personnel, who are always engaged in the logistics and planning of major emergencies and events, were involved in the process to ensure a safe removal of the Battle of Liberty Place statue,” Tyronne Walker, a City Hall spokesman, said in the statement. “The city’s public safety agencies took part in this lawful operation, and we commend them for safely executing the plan while protecting the lives of all involved.”

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