Groups sue to keep Confederate monuments in New Orleans

Hours after the New Orleans City Council voted Thursday to remove four Confederate monuments from public property, a group of historic organizations announced a lawsuit against the federal government and mayor's office, claiming the statues are protected by state laws.

"Regardless of whether the Civil War era is regarded as a catastrophic mistake or a noble endeavor, it is undeniably a formative event in the history of Louisiana," the suit says. "It is the source of much of the cultural heritage (of) this city and state, including countless novels, short stories, plays, monuments, statues, films, stories, songs, legends and other expressions of cultural identity."

The 51-page suit asks U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to override the council's decision to get rid of the four statues on grounds that they are a public "nuisance" due to their Confederate affiliation. It also alleges that streetcar projects in New Orleans funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office led to construction that damaged the monuments.

The plaintiffs, Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, the Monumental Task Committee Inc. and the Beauregard Camp No. 130, argue that two of the monuments are protected as listees on the National Register of Historic Places and all are safeguarded by laws that protect statues celebrating military veterans.