SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Community organizers were suppose to be protesting the confederate monument in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse for 4th of July, but instead had to hold a press briefing after cancelling the protest due to threats.
In an undisclosed location multiple leaders from different social justice organizations gathered Saturday afternoon. PJ Brown-Coleman moderated the press event and says they thought of every solution to keep the protest happening, but the end resulted in cancellation.
“That was a very hard decision to come to. We had several meetings throughout the week on what kind of contingency plans can we do. Can we beef up security? Do we have enough man power to combat what could arise?” said Brown-Coleman.
She says they unanimously decided the protection and security of the community was more important than putting peaceful protesters in harms way. She says they have received numerous death threats and other threats to their livelihoods since last week’s protest against the confederate monument.
Destiny Brown with Speak Up, Shreveport says the organizations are not being silenced which is why they held the press conference.
“Sometimes you have to put away your ego and think what is the best route to go. You can still get your message out there to the public. We are peaceful protesters, we are not violent,” said Brown.
She says they will not bow down to discriminatory practices.
Omari Ho-Sang with 45 Days of Action Shreveport says that as a leader of a movement that seeks to mobilize and transform a society, she wants to transform Shreveport. This can only be done by holding those in positions of power responsible for their actions.
“Malcolm X once famously said that a movement is not a movement until everybody is moving everywhere,” said Ho-Sang, “Everyone who has made a decision or abstained from making a decision that is hurting our people will be held accountable.”
She says that their objectives are to protect and provide for the needs of their communities. Leaders discussed others issues at hand with Shreveport beyond the monument like poverty, education and red-lining.
“This is not about one person, one organization, one company, one brand, one news interview, one event, one demonstration, one photo or one time that you showed up. This is about the ability of a collective to show up tirelessly day in and day out until the change is here.”
Cherie Grey with Xpress Yourself Louisiana Artists and Creatives Voices for Change gave a historical context to the mistreatment of Black people and confederate monuments as well as present conversations on both topics.
“The National Trust for Historical Preservation released a statement last month in regards to confederate monuments. They believe that Black Lives Matter, Black history matters and that African Americans have made enormous contributions to American society and continue to do so,” said Grey.
Matthew Torma with We, The People says he was there when counter protesters confronted peaceful protesters last weekend.
“They approached us in anger. Leaving only momentarily to put their guns and knives in their cars before police arrived. When the police arrived, we were asked to get our people off the monument three times for nothing,” said Torma.
He says they had guns and snipers stationed on buildings and when local Black men showed up to practice their second amendment rights as well, they had their character attacked.
“I can stand here and ask why someone like me can carry a gun and no one bats an eye, but I think we all know the answer to that and it is racism.”
Torma is a white male.
The press briefing was put together by William James who’s an independent activist for the removal and relocation of the confederate monument.
“It’s been up there for 114 years. It was first built in 1906. It’s been in litigation with appeal after appeal. I don’t want my daughter, my grandchildren to feel the pain that I feel when I see this,” said James.
You can watch the full press briefing here: