- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 24, 2016

David Duke, the former Klansman who later served as a Republican representative in the Louisiana state legislature, said he’ll be in downtown New Orleans on Saturday to prevent protesters from removing a statue of President Andrew Jackson.

Mr. Duke, a current candidate for U.S. Senate, plans to participate in a counter-protest being held noon Saturday in Jackson Square in opposition of a rally being organized by “Take ‘Em Down Nola,” a local coalition that intends on taking down the long-standing monument to the nation’s seventh president.

“There are more people that visit that statue than any other in this city, and so especially given that he was a slave owner and the architect of the Trail of Tears that murdered more than 5,000 native people, we think he is not deserving of any place of respect,” Malcolm Suber of Take ‘Em Down Nola told WGNO-TV, a local ABC affiliate.

The anti-Jackson activists plan on meeting at 1 p.m. local time on Saturday and expect potentially thousands to join the group in removing the statue from Jackson Square, Mr. Suber told the ABC affiliate. On Friday, Mr. Duke said he intends on stopping them.

“If no Iron-clad assurance, I will stand at Andrew Jackson’s statue Sept. 24 to stop it’s illegal, criminal destruction,” he tweeted. “Want to join me?”

“I ask you to join with me and not allow these criminals to destroy our heritage,” Mr. Duke said in an automated robocall later that evening.

On Mr. Duke’s website, attempts to remove the Jackson monument are compared with the destruction of statues honoring Saddam Hussein, Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler.

“It doesn’t matter whether you think any of these people were heroes or villains, the point is that the statues were destroyed by victors overturning the system. Are we ready to concede defeat?” the author of the post asked.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison on Friday said law enforcement has prepared for both demonstrators and counter-protesters to descend on Jackson Square this weekend.

“We are treating this as a tactical issue,” he said at a press briefing, a CBS affiliate reported. “Normally we would allow people to just congregate, demonstrate and we give them the space. But because we have information to suggest there’s a higher need for police visibility, we’re going to act on that.”

Police “will protect everybody’s right to demonstrate peacefully,” he added, but “will not allow anyone to destroy or defame anybody’s property.”

“We will take the necessary action if we need to do so,” the superintendent said.

“We very well may have an opposing group with a different agenda and our goal is to make sure everybody is safe out there including the public at-large that may not have anything to do with the demonstration,” he told The Advocate newspaper.

Mr. Suber, the Take ‘Em Down activist, told the station that activists have asked law enforcement to let them remove the statue as planned.

“We understand the city and the Police Department are able to prevent us from taking down the statue,” he told WWL-TV on Friday. “But we are asking them to step aside.”

The New Orleans City Council voted 6-1 in December in favor of removing statues honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard, as well as one dedicated to the “White League” militia. A lawsuit put those plans on hold, and a federal appeals court is expected to hear arguments on the matter later this month.

Mr. Duke, 66, served one-term in the Louisiana House of Representatives after winning a special election in 1989. Prior to then, he held the title of Imperial Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

The controversial white nationalist made headlines earlier this year after endorsing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. In July, he announced he’ll run in this year’s Senate race as a member of the GOP.

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