CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Caddo Parish Commission officials say a settlement has been reached in the court case over the Confederate monument outside the courthouse that will allow it to be moved to another location.
The Caddo Commission originally voted to remove the monument back in 2017, setting off a legal battle with the Shreveport chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) over the monument itself and ownership of the land on which it stands. The UDC also claimed parish officials violated its rights to free speech and equal protection.
That suit ultimately was thrown out by a federal judge, a decision that was upheld by a federal appeals court. In December 2019, the commission set a deadline for November 2019 and notified the UDC to remove the monument or the parish would claim it as its own and remove it for them and in December approved $500,000 in funding to pay for for the removal.
The UDC filed a new suit, claiming the parish was using the Lousiana Civil Code cited in the notice of intent to claim the property was being used improperly, winning another restraining order.
According to a statement released from the parish on Tuesday, they will pay for the removal of the monument and will still build a protective structure around the monument as directed in the Commission’s special meeting last week. Construction should begin in the next 24-48 hours.
Another hearing was held June 30 before Caddo District Court Judge Craig Marcotte, but the two sides apparently came to an agreement before a ruling could be issued.
According to a statement released by the parish, parties from both sides in the case met on Monday and signed an agreement allowing the Caddo Parish Commission/Parish of Caddo to move forward with removing the monument and moving it to another location.
The location remains undetermined at this time, the statement said.
“We are pleased to have reached an agreement in the UDC v. Commission case,” Parish Attorney Donna Frazier said in the statement. “The Parish has executed all legal means in the removal of the monument, and will proceed with next steps.”
Those next steps include continuing to develop a removal process for the monument and initiating an RFP/bid process for the actual removal, transportation, and installation at the new site to be determined.
“I was glad to hear an amicable solution was achieved between Caddo Parish and The United Daughters of Confederacy,” District 10 Commissioner Mario Chavez said in a statement Monday afternoon. “This was a long process and I applaud all the citizens willing to serve on the citizen subcommittee and to the chairmen Ralph Johnson, for volunteering to lead that committee. I also Thank all The Commissioners and staff that attended hours of town hall meetings to hear the hundreds of voices both for the removal and the contrary. After years of debate I know the citizens on the side of the majority vote will be happy to see the resolution completed and the rightful owners will have a specified location chosen to celebrate and pay respect to the Monument.“
In the meantime, the parish says the engineer is still working on the design of a box the commission approved last week to be constructed around the monument for it’s protection as well as to defuse racial tensions that have arisen in recent weeks amid protests and counter-protests focused on the monument.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, they say construction on that protective box is expected to begin Tuesday morning.
The Shreveport chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) has not confirmed details of they agreement, but the organization did issue a statement earlier Monday regarding the protective box.
Shreveport Chapter of The United Daughters of the Confederacy is pleased that Caddo Parish and its Commissioners are taking action to prevent any further vandalism to our monument. Recent events prompted our organization to consider just such a barrier be installed for the monument’s protection. Now with the parish’s response to those events, their soon to be erected temporary structure will hopefully be designed to withstand the elements and give our monument honoring American War Veterans the security it deserves.Statement from United Daughters of the Confederacy – Shreveport