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Meet the Multiracial Defenders Of Confederate Memorials

African Americans and Native Americans are standing with the defenders of Confederate monuments in New Orleans. Photojournalist Abdul Aziz crossed the battle lines to find out why.  
Andrew Duncomb, self-described "Black Rebel," came to New Orleans from Oklahoma to defend Confederate monuments.
Andrew Duncomb, self-described "Black Rebel," came to New Orleans from Oklahoma to defend Confederate monuments. Abdul Aziz

Back in December 2015, the New Orleans city council voted to remove several Confederate monuments, but the city is only now getting around to dismantling them. Lawsuits from organizations seeking to preserve these white supremacist memorials jammed that process up, as did threats made to potential contractors. In March, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals finalized orders to have the controversial monuments removed. The first monument—an obelisk dedicated to a massacre carried out by white supremacists to prevent racial integration during Reconstruction—was taken down in the wee hours of Monday, April 24.

The legal battle may be over, but the debate goes on. On one side is the network of local activists called Take ‘Em Down NOLA, which has been leading the movement to remove these monuments from public view. On the other side are the Confederate defenders who have been camped out in front of the monuments for almost a week. There are three more monuments scheduled to come down, but the city has halted activity while the popular JazzFest is happening. Things have gotten testy; this past weekend, as Nola.com reports, “supporters and opponents of the monuments sparred beneath the statue of Jefferson Davis”—the next monument slated to come down.