NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The issue of removing four prominent monuments linked to Confederate history will get ample time for discussion and public debate before the City Council.

On Tuesday, Council President Jason Williams announced that the council would vote on whether to remove the monuments at a special meeting on Dec. 17. Before voting, though, the council president said a hearing on the matter will be held this Thursday.

Williams said the issue has sparked a lot of interest and that council members have received "extremely passionate" comments.

After a June mass shooting at a black church in South Carolina, Mayor Mitch Landrieu proposed removing the monuments, including a prominent statue of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee in the middle of a traffic circle also named after the Confederate leader.

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