—So What’s the Big Deal?
Seriously—does anyone really think removal of this memorial is going to stop lunatics from committing hate crimes? Give me a break..especially if you want to spend my tax dollars (estimated to be between $200,000 and $300,000) to move this monument at the Caddo Parish courthouse.
Before I am immediately branded as a racist, please consider that I am a native of South Carolina, I went to high school less than 30 miles from the home of the Dylann Roof, I abhor his actions and I applaud the efforts to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol. I formed the first black-white law firm in northwest Louisiana and I have represented (pro bono) the local NAACP chapter in litigation. Additionally I have actively recruited and supported black candidates for local political offices. (I realize all of this and a buck will get me coffee at Mickey Dees.)
Back to the subject at hand. Thankfully, the Caddo Commission voted to have the Confederate flag removed from the monument in November of 2011. Since that time there have been no criminal defendants or jurors claiming foul by the presence of the monument—nor any crimes committed that could be traced to the presence of the memorial or alibis based on the memorial. Admittedly, there has been a bit more interest in this large stone edifice recently —now maybe one out of 10,000 visitors to the Caddo Courthouse stop and look at this object of branded horror; before the Roof rampage, the number of observers was probably one out of 50,000.
Maybe the location is the reason there is so little real interest in the monument. Its right in front of the courthouse, which occupies the entire 500 block of Texas Street. This block is not convenient to parking even on the weekends when the most pedestrian traffic in this area is the homeless/street people who hang out on the benches. To say its off—as in way off—the beaten path for tourists is to say the least, as well as local residents who may be so bored that they go out for visits to historical places. (Yes, these people do exist.)
This 37 ton monument is topped by a youthful rifleman personifying the common rifleman. (Interesting enough the Bossier Confederate statute has a similar rifleman; this statue is on the boulevard in front of the Bossier Parish Courthouse in Benton.) Conceived as a monument to the local Civil War dead, the monument rests on land that may or may not be owned by Caddo Parish; there’s no doubt that the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) had the permission of the Caddo Police Jury to place the monument at its location in 1905. If the UDC does not own the land, they no doubt have an easement on the location. The City and the Parish supported the monument by paying half of the $10,000 costs; the UDC paid the balance.
Sentiments about the monument and whether or not it should be moved are all across the board–as reported in an article penned by Zachary Beaird and John Andrew Prime (Several Facets in Delicate Issue) appearing on the cover of the Sunday July 5 issue. If some of the reasoning is to be followed then 2 bronzed statutes on Texas Street may also need to be removed for the same specious logic. Huddie Ledbetter stands in the 400 block in front of the downtown library and an unnamed roustabout drilling an oil well is located in the 300 block of Texas. Besides being a black music pioneer, Huddie was also know to be a hard drinking womanizer; the oil and gas industry has been accused of pollution. Thus in same ways both statutes could be viewed as sending a subliminal message that promotes wrongdoing, or causes unrest in some areas of public conscientious.
As for me and my Caddo tax dollars (yes I live in Shreveport and always have since transferring to Barksdale Air Force Base in January 1977—and I own real estate in Shreveport), I do not want any tax dollars to be spent on moving the monument. Caddo Parish and Shreveport are over-taxed and both have societal challenges that are much more meritorious of public expenditures. And if you doubt that, I suggest a visit to the Caddo Juvenile Center and/or the Caddo criminal courts; the very high percentage of black defendants certainly can not blame the Confederate Memorial for their socio-economic challenges and their unfortunate presence in the criminal justice system.
Lets focus public discussion on improvement of our community for all citizens—and stop being sidetracked by false issues that provide smoke screens for some elected officials to avoid public scrutiny, much less criticism. The Confederate Monument should not be the convenient whipping boy for those seeking headlines or for those that do not want to realistically deal with societal issues. Lets turn the page on this issue—so turn this page – – and move on as I am now doing.