MAY 26, 2017 – New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu defended his removal of Confederate statues in the city, exclusively telling “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd that he recognized the country’s racial divide and that “the monuments that were in place were really signs of oppression for 67 percent of my city that is forced to walk by them, and I found that morally offensive, and so it didn’t make any sense.”
“This didn’t have anything to do with politics,” he continued. “It is a very important issue for the country to confront as we're being honest and truthful with ourselves about who we are and where we're going.”
Watch the interview excerpt, and see the transcript of the exchange below. Join the conversation online with hashtag #MTP.
Tune in Sunday for more from Landrieu, plus interviews with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).
MANDATORY CREDIT: NBC NEWS’ “MEET THE PRESS WITH CHUCK TODD”
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CHUCK TODD: There've been plenty of people trying to examine other motivations for your political future based on this and one of the analyses said, “well if Mitch Landrieu ever wants to run statewide again, he's never going to be able to do it because his decision, while popular in the city of New Orleans, is extraordinarily unpopular in the state ... this is actually a divisive move to many Southerners.” What do you say to them, that this is divided, this debate has become more polarizing?
MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU: Well first of all, I didn't start the Civil War, and I certainly didn't start the racial divide that this country has had. I simply recognized for the people that we still have it and that the monuments that were in place were really signs of oppression for 67 percent of my city that is forced to walk by them, and I found that morally offensive, and so it didn’t make any sense. This didn’t have anything to do with politics. You make the perfect point, what a silly political decision to make for a politician that lives in the South to take on an issue that he knows most of the people in the South disagree with.
So, this has been an issue that’s been part of my life since I was born. As I’ve said many, many times, there’s so many people that have gone before me that talked about it. This is something that really transcends race. It transcends politics. It transcends geography. It is a very important issue for the country to confront as we're being honest and truthful with ourselves about who we are and where we're going and, you know, just for everybody else, if we can kind of get past the issue of race and find the essential truth –which is that we're all the same, we’re going to be able to solve a lot of problems in the city of New Orleans and perhaps across the country.
And so, I commend it to people. I’m surprised as you are that the speech went viral. It was intended for a local audience, but evidently it’s an issue that people across the country are dealing with and I hope they do it in a forthright, honest manner with each other.
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