Lousiana Confederate statue torn down by Hurricane Laura weeks after city officials voted to keep monument
LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA: A centuries-old Confederate statue that had been the at the center of controversies was torn down by furious winds of Hurricane Laura just weeks after officials voted not to move it.
Laura, one of the strongest storms to ever hit Louisana's shores when it landed as a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph, has already caused untold devastation across the state and cost the lives of six people. In what some residents of Lake Charles will say is a happy coincidence, it also did not spare 'The South's Defenders' Confederate monument that had been standing on the lawn of the Calcasieu Parish Courthouse for more than 100 years.
The statue, which featured a young flag-bearing soldier, was knocked off its pedestal and onto the grass. A large oak tree at the courthouse, which was next to the statue, suffered significant damage as well, with the winds ripping off several of its limbs and scattering it across the lawn.
Laura also damaged and destroyed other landmarks in Lake Charles, reported NPR, including a bowling alley, a casino, and a Happy Donuts, but it was the destruction of the South's Defenders monument that caught the attention because of the narrative around it.
Can confirm, the confederate statue in Lake Charles that many were wondering about is gone, apparently a casualty of Hurricane Laura pic.twitter.com/xWzLpRAnBJ— Andrea Gallo (@aegallo) August 27, 2020
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement that had brought a renewed attention around Confederate statues in the country, protesters had asked that the city remove the South's Defenders memorial and threatened an economic boycott otherwise. Supporters for its removal included Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter and other prominent local figures like Judge Ron Ware, Attorney Todd S Clemons, the Rev J.L. Franklin. They said that it was time that the statue, erected in 1915 to recognize local veterans who fought in the Civil War as well as other soldiers from towns in the South, was taken down and moved to a museum or any other place.
In a Facebook post this past June, Hunter said the courthouse lawn wrote, "In the year 2020, a courthouse lawn is not the place for this monument. The statue should not be destroyed or erased. It should be relocated with thoughtfulness and modern context, and while I do not have the answer for where it should be relocated to, I am willing to be a part of a constructive conversation about this and how to move forward together."
Clemons, on the other hand, had even taken out a full-page ad in the American Press where he stressed that the monument should be "promptly removed from the grounds of the 14th Judicial District Courthouse" because it was a "symbol of oppression and a celebration of racism" and that "it's not a symbol of ‘Justice for All' and it doesn't deserve a place near the Halls of Justice."
But two weeks ago, the Calcasieu Police Jury — the Lake Charles' version of a county commission or council — voted to keep the monument in its place following a seven-week public feedback period which generated significant interest. Officials said they received a total of 945 comments about the statue, of which 878 were against moving it from the courthouse.