Wanted public to remember ‘hero’
Removal of the P.G.T. Beauregard monument in New Orleans has been described as celebrating the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy,” but Norco residents Chris Kimble and his father, Michael, didn’t see it that way.
At about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, only a day after the monument became the city’s third Confederate statue removed, the two returned to the scene and spray-painted “Gen. Beauregard CSA” on the pedestal where the statue had stood since 1915.
“All we want to do is honor this great American veteran,” Kimble said.
The two were arrested and charged with defacing a historic landmark. When they went before a judge on the charges, however, Kimble said the judge asked, “Where’s the monument?” and lowered the charge to simple criminal damage of public property since the monument had been removed.
The Kimbles stepped into a years long, hot controversy over removal of four monuments in New Orleans that city officials maintained celebrated the “Cult of the Lost Cause,” a movement aimed at promoting white supremacy in the South. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called the removal a way to “embrace justice and compassion” rather than honoring the Confederacy, particularly with the city’s 300th anniversary approaching.
Kimble said they did commit a crime, but they didn’t deface any property, and they anticipated that they might be arrested. But he firmly maintained of Beauregard, “He fought for us, why shouldn’t we fight for him?”
But Kimble argued that’s not why they sought to preserve Beauregard’s memory.
“It’s not about continuing the Confederacy, but about honoring our ancestors and heroes,” he said. “What kind of world do we live in when we can’t honor our own heritage?”Kimble added, “Moving these monuments is no better than going to a graveyard and kicking over the gravestones.”
The monuments were also memorials, serving as a place to remember the thousands of Confederate soldiers who never returned home, he said.
Although Beauregard is considered the first prominent general of the Confederate States Army, he was a civil engineer also nicknamed, “Little Creole,” Kimble said. He as born at the Contreras sugar cane plantation in St. Bernard Parish to a French Creole family.
Kimble said removing these statues should be a hate crime.
“I was trying to keep Gen. Beauregard in the people’s thoughts by putting his name back on the pedestal,” he said.
In the days leading up to the statue’s removal, Kimble said they had visited the site numerous times and waved flags at the monument site.
“It’s not a race thing,” he said. “It’s about our heritage and the history of the city.”