Shreveport mayor, NAACP react to DDA handling of incidents involving racism

Local

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Mayor of Shreveport and the local chapter of the NAACP released statements Friday in response to the Downtown Development Authority’s handling of recent incidents involving racism that left some employees concerned about their safety and questioning whether the organization has their backs.

The statements come a day after KTAL/KMSS reported on concerns expressed by DDA parking patrolman Detric Bell following a run-in with a group of men that work for SBC Bail Bonds on Marshall Street in early June. Bell says the men took issue with his request to move a vehicle or risk a ticket and devolved into the men using racial slurs and unholstering their guns.

Just this week, DDA Deputy Director Janie Landry was in some hot water herself after a sharing comments on her personal Facebook page disparaging the Black Lives Matter movement. She was later asked to remove the post after it was brought to the attention of the DDA board. It was not clear whether the board would take further action, but as of Friday afternoon, Landry was still on the job and had only been issued a warning.

The DDA did release a signed statement by Landry late Friday afternoon, however.

“On Saturday June 20th I fell into the current practice of taking to social media to express frustration about a personal experience,” the statement said.

“In that ill-conceived post I made a reference to the recent actions by the Chick-Fil-A CEO concerning the BLM organization. Though not my intention, I realize the post may be interpreted as derogatory towards the message and sincere members of that organization. In no way do I downplay the movement, message or the plight of African Americans. In my 26-year career with the DDA, I have always tried to be a good representative for our organization. I failed in this moment with six words. I sincerely apologize to anyone I offended, the board of Directors and entire staff of the DDA.”

“There is no place in society for racism, especially not in public institutions. The Downtown Development Authority receives taxpayer dollars and represents the interests of downtown Shreveport, including numerous African-American business owners and residents,” Mayor Adrian Perkins said in a letter released Friday addressed to the DDA Director Liz Swaine.

“The social media post made by the DDA Deputy Director regarding the Black Lives Matter movement was offensive and demeaning to the thousands of concerned citizens who have marched downtown in recent weeks demanding change. Her comments embody the very attitudes and biases demonstrators have been protesting against.”

Perkins also referenced a statement released late Thursday afternoon by the DDA stating its support of Black Lives Matter.

“The DDA recently issued a statement that, among other things, asserted “Black Lives Matter.” I am calling upon the Downtown Development Authority to translate those words into action by taking steps to ensure that DDA employees’ safety concerns are addressed and that the culture within DDA is not discriminatory or otherwise hostile. In my estimation, such actions are required to demonstrate that black lives do, in fact, matter.”

In addition to a statement released Friday afternoon calling for the arrest of Victor Llanito of SBC Bail Bonds for brandishing his weapon and threatening a city employee, the Shreveport chapter of the NAACP also commented early Friday afternoon on its Facebook page.

“We are all aware of the Racism inside of the Shreveport DDA. It’s a shame that employees have legitimate concerns about their safety and well-being along with video evidence and a police report. But when brought to management it is often overlooked. We are calling out Liz Swaine for your lack of compassion and empathy for your fellow constituents and Janie Landry for your disrespectful and idiotic social media post in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement. Racism has gone on for too long in the city of Shreveport and it will begin to end NOW!”

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