SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Shreveport attorney Arthur Carmody sent a letter Thursday to the Caddo Parish Commission saying he believes the Commission does not have the right to demand removal of the Confederate Monument from the Caddo Courthouse and that it owes the United Daughters of the Confederacy an apology.
The UDC was given formal notice by the Commission on August 28, advising the organization that the commission had withdrawn consent for the monument to remain on the courthouse property and demanding its removal “under Art. 493 of the Civil Code” within 90 days.
Carmody said he wrote the letter in his capacity as a private citizen in writing the Sept. 5 letter to Caddo Parish Attorney Donna Frazier, and as one who has been working as a consultant without fee for the Shreveport Chapter #237 United Daughters of the Confederacy and their attorney.
Carmody went on to say in the letter that the commission is “legally incorrect and its reliance on Article 493 of the Louisiana Civil Code as justification for the 90-day removal notice given to the UDC is invalid for the following reasons:
1. The article applies only to landowners who did not give consent to the improvement on the property. Here, the Cado Parish Police Jury, the predecessor of the Caddo Parish Commission, specifically approved the locatio and design of the monument and actually paid a substantial part of its const. This is evident a from reading of the police jury minutes and newspaper articles at the time in 1903 and the Commission cannot in good faith say that the monument was installed without its permission.
2. Article 493, and the cases cited under it, clearly applies to landowners in good faith and the actions of the Commission do not reflect such good faith. The use of Article 493 is one example. And the other is that the Commission has violated the provisions of the Louisiana and Federal Constitutions by attempting to take and destroy private property without the payment of just compensation. At no time has the Commission attempted to expropriate the monument or made any effort to determine just compensation, as is required by law, before there is any taking.
The only way a governmental agency, which the Commission clearly is, can take control and destroy private property is through the power of eminent domain, or expropriateion as it is called in Louisiana, which has not been given to the Caddo Parish Commission to utilize in a case such as this.
3. It is unfortunate to see a governmental agency attempt to take private property through the use of an inapplicable law. It is disappointing for the Commission now to try to exercise this power through the use of a flawed article of the Civil Code.
In sum, we do not believe it equitable, legal or just for this governmental agency, after one hundred years of peaceful acceptance, to take and obligerate this substantial piece of private property, based on a totally inapplicable law.
The $350 figure placed in the Commission’s 2020 budget request for monument expense reflects that a substantial sum is involved and should be recognized accordingly.
We will be glad to discuss this and further issues with you as this matter develops. A good starting point might be a letter of apology to the Daughters for the expense, headache and trouble that it has initiated.Arthur Carmody, in Sept. 5 letter to Caddo Parish Commission
UDC attorney Dave Knadler issued a brief statement a few days after the Caddo Commission demanded the removal of the monument, saying the organization was disappointed with the notice, “especially because my client has a quit claim deed to the land underneath the Caddo Parish Confederate Monument,” and because the commission had not waited for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on whether or not to review their case.
The Caddo Parish Commission voted to remove the monument in October 2017. The Shreveport chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy immediately filed suit to block the removal on the grounds that it has a “private property interest” in the land where the statue stands in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse. It also claims parish officials violated its rights to free speech and equal protection.
A federal judge in Monroe threw out the suit last year, a decision that has since been upheld by a federal appeals court.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misidentified the author of the letter to the Caddo Parish Commission attorney as La. Rep. Thomas Carmody.
Thomas Carmody, who is finishing up his final term the Louisiana House of Representatives where he has served the citizens of Shreveport and Bossier in District 6 since 2008, is among the applicants seeking to become the next Caddo Registrar of Voters.