New Orleans officials removed the first of four prominent Confederate monuments early Monday, the latest Southern institution to sever itself from symbols viewed by many as a representation racism and white supremacy.

The first memorial to come down was the Liberty Monument, an 1891 obelisk honoring the Crescent City White League.

Workers arrived to begin removing the statue, which commemorates whites who tried to topple a biracial post-Civil War government in New Orleans, around 1:25 a.m. in an attempt to avoid disruption from supporters who want the monuments to stay, some of whom city officials said have made death threats.

The workers inspecting the statue ahead of its removal could be seen wearing flak jackets and helmets. Police officers watched the area from atop the parking garage of a nearby hotel. Meanwhile, a handful of people opposed to the move held a vigil at the statue of Jefferson Davis, who was the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.