Celebration, relief because the statue of Sheep will be removed in Lafayette
After 99 years at the corner of Jefferson Street and Lee Avenue in downtown Lafayette, the statue of Confederate General Alfred Mouton is finally set to be moved after a legal settlement on Friday that sparked celebration and relief for those involved.
“The agreement to remove the statue of Alfred Mouton is a historic step forward for the city of Lafayette,” said lawyer Jérôme Moroux, who represented 16 citizens who sued in 2019 to overturn an old court order from 40 years old who protected the statue from being moved.
“For 99 years, this Confederate statue has stood at the gates of Lafayette, a symbol of one of the ugliest and most shameful neighborhoods in American history.”
On Friday, these citizens, led by Move the Mindset president Fred Prejean and joined by the legal department of the consolidated government of Lafayette, won their fight to lift the court order when the United Daughters chapter of the Confederation of Lafayette backed down from the legal battle and agreed to settle his claims to the statue.
The retreat came as UDC local president Jessica McChesney was ordered by a local judge on Monday to produce a membership list for her organizations by noon Friday. By working with LCG and the citizens, McChesney will avoid having to produce the list.
Friday’s settlement marks the end of efforts to remove the statue from its prominent location in downtown Lafayette, in front of the old town hall building.
Under the terms of the settlement, the UDC will have 45 days to find a new location for the statue in LCG before the city has the right to dispose of it. LCG will pay $ 20,000 to build a new base for the statue and $ 5,000 to insure it during the move.
Prejean, who was the main voice calling for the removal of the statue, said at a rally outside the statue on Friday afternoon that he remembered the grief he threw on the town’s black residents there. has decades.
“As a youngster in the 1950s, I remember coming to this building behind us, which was the town hall and was the building where people had to come to pay their utility bills,” said Prejean.
“I was about ten years old … and I remember asking my mother, ‘Who is this man?’ referring to the statue My mother’s response was always, “He was a wicked man. Let’s go home. “And that’s all I could get from her.”
The statue commemorates Mouton as a hero of the Civil War, but the Opelousas-born son of secessionist governor Alexandre Mouton waged his own civil war against the black residents of Lafayette for years as a slave owner and leader of the ” Lafayette’s “Red Vigilance Committee” which violently oppress black residents with lashes, expulsions and lynchings.
After Friday’s agreement between LCG, the UDC and the 16 citizens, President-Mayor Josh Guillory, who put all the weight of LCG’s legal department to lift the 1980 court order after asking for the removal of the statue last summer, praised the work of everyone involved in making the deal and condemned the statue as a monument to historic oppression.
“The downtown Lafayette statue is not a statue honoring the valor of Opelousas-born Confederate General Alfred Mouton. It is a statue of Jim Crow erected 99 years ago to intimidate a whole class of people “Guillory said in a statement.
Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory:Remove the statue of Confederate General Alfred Mouton
“The hatred of the Jim Crow era does not represent the values of our community, and a statue that glorifies this cause is false. We can honor our past and our heritage without hurting an entire group of our people.”
City Councilor Glenn Lazard, who grew up in Lafayette and whose predominantly black neighborhood encompasses the downtown area and the statue, said the city’s ability to now move the statue is a “very important first step,” but noted that the legacy of the Jim Crow era remained in Lafayette much less visible than the monument.
“There are still vestiges, if you will, of Jim Crow that we have to contend with. The disparities in health care, the disparities in wealth and economic gains,” Lazard said.
“We still need to fix it. We still can’t rest on our laurels. We still have issues to sort out, I can tell you that as a city councilor, I am committed to resolving these issues.”