New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) blasted those who've criticized the removal of four Confederate monuments from his city in an emotional speech Friday about Louisiana's dark history of slavery and the civil rights movement.

"It immediately begs the question why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings ... nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives of pain, of shame, all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans," Landrieu said. "So for those self-appointed defenders of history and monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to historical malfeasance — a lie by omission."

Landrieu asked how he could explain why a statue of a prominent Confederate war hero exists in modern-day New Orleans to young black children growing up in the city. 


"Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African-American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth-grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it?” Landrieu asked in his address.

“Can you look into that young girl's eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too?” he continued.

City officials say the Confederate symbols don't "appropriately reflect the values of diversity and inclusion that make New Orleans strong today.” 

Last week, the city of New Orleans removed a third of four planned Confederate memorials, a statue of Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard.

So far, the city has removed three of the four Confederate monuments, and it still plans to remove the fourth — a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Protesters on both sides of the issue have turned up to demonstrate at the demolitions.

Supporters of the Confederate symbol removal reportedly yelled "take 'em down!" at the second demolition, while those opposed to the removal chanted "Mitch for prison," referring to Landrieu.

The city said its workers have received death threats in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, a Mississippi lawmaker apologized after earlier saying Louisiana lawmakers who support taking the Confederate monuments down should be "lynched."

The removal of the monuments has been delayed for months as a result of fights between state and federal courts.