If the Commission eventually decides to move the monument, a lawsuit could follow. The committee was appointed by the Caddo Commission to hear the opinions of citizens about what should happen to the monument, which has stood on the courthouse grounds since 1906.
Additionally, the committee will gather social, historical, and legal information relative to the monument.
So far, public opinion has been pretty much split with many people voicing opinions on both sides of the issue – whether to keep it in place or remove it. There have also been some suggestions to add an additional statute or monument.
But the issue is more complicated than that. In addition to the emotional side of the issue, the future of the monument is vastly unknown because the committee is still working to determine who owns the property on which the monument sits.
It is still in dispute whether the tract of land where the monument sits was deeded to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. If the Commission eventually decides to move the monument, a lawsuit could follow.
There is also the legislation pending in the Legislature, introduced by state Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, which says that before a plaque or monument can be moved, there must be a public vote.
His legislation has passed the House and is awaiting action in the Senate. Its fate in the Senate is uncertain. Should the bill make it through the Senate, then there is the question of whether Gov. John Bel Edwards will sign it into law.
All of this is taking place against the backdrop of what is happening in New Orleans where Mayor Mitch Landrieu has already taken down four highly public monuments. If the bill should become law, what happens there?
R.J. Johnson, chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee, said, “We are going to take our time and get it right and make sure it is something we can all stand behind.” He added that a recommendation could be weeks or months away.
Alabama passes legislation
The Alabama state Legislature has approved a bill similar to the one introduced by state Rep. Thomas Carmody in the Louisiana Legislature.
The bill “would prohibit the relocation, removal, alteration, renaming, or other disturbance of any architecturally significant building, memorial building, memorial street, or monument that has stood on public property for 40 or more years,” reads the text of the bill.
Sen. Mark Sanders, an African-American Democrat, said “we are protecting monuments that represent oppression to a large part of the people in the state of Alabama.”
Sen. Gerald Allen, a Republican sponsor of the bill, blasted what he perceived as a “wave of political correctness” assailing monuments dedicated to people who, despite having flaws, were important to history.
Another Republican lawmaker chimed in, “Are you good with the sanitizing of history as we are seeing in New Orleans?”
The bill passed on the same day that New Orleans removed its last of four Confederate statues. The bill now awaits the approval of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who is expected to sign the bill into law.