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Workers remove top from Confederate Memorial in Forest Park

Workers attach straps to the granite top of the Confederate Memorial in Forest Park on June 8, 2017.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI
Workers attach straps to the granite top of the Confederate Memorial in Forest Park on June 8, 2017.

Updated at 11:20 a.m. June 8th with removal of statue's top — Work began Thursday morning in Forest Park to take down the controversial Confederate Memorial.

Crews removed the top of the statue a day after the St. Louis streets department set up barricades in the area. A spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson said it will take a while to remove the monument completely.

The monument has been the site of often-tense protests over recent weeks. Groups asking for the statue to come down have been met with counter protests from people who say the statue is historical record.

Bill Hannegan, who lives across the street from Forest Park, believes the memorial should remain where it is. He said he was shocked when he walked out of his house Wednesday morning to go to work and saw the fencing going up.

"This feels very authoritarian – in that, nobody’s been consulted," Hannegan said. I mean, I don’t know where it’s going, I didn’t know until this morning that money was available to move this. It seems like the public, including the people who live right there, aren’t being told what’s going on."

Over the last few weeks, Krewson has said she will unveil a plan to take down the monument soon, using a combination of private and public money. Her spokesman, Koran Addo, did not immediately provide details about the funding.

Alderwoman Sharon Tyus is sponsoring a bill that would require St. Louis to remove any Confederate monuments or flags from city parks, prohibit new ones from being put up in the future and rename Confederate Drive for ragtime pianist Scott Joplin. A second public hearing on the bill is scheduled for Thursday night.

In 2015, when Krewson was an alderwoman, she made an unsuccessful bid to rename Confederate Drive. Crews on Wednesday also removed the Confederate Drive street signs.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy paid for the Forest Park statue and put it up with the city’s permission in 1914.

St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones has a campaign to raise private funds to remove the Confederate Memorial. Her spokeswoman said they are still working out the details of transferring that money to the city.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.