The city of New Orleans removed a statue of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard that had been in place for 102 years, in an unannounced nighttime operation designed to catch protesters and counter-protesters off guard.

The statue is the third of four monuments in the city that has been slated for removal, the product of a city council vote in 2015. The statue was removed early Wednesday morning by workers wearing masks to conceal their identities.

“Today we take another step in defining our city not by our past but by our bright future,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a statement late Tuesday. “While we must honor our history, we will not allow the Confederacy to be put on a pedestal in the heart of New Orleans.”