St. Landry Confederate Memorial To Be Removed
After standing in front of the St. Landry Parish Courthouse for more than 100 years, a monument honoring Confederate veterans will be removed from its perch in Opelousas.
The St. Landry Parish Council voted Wednesday to remove the statue. The final tally was 10-3 in favor to move the monument. Colby Clavier, Alvin Stelly, and Gil Savoy cast the three "no" votes.
Clavier introduced a motion to have the voters decide if the monument should stay or go. Clavier introduced that motion after several residents spoke on the issue, asking the council to put the statue's removal on the ballot. Councilman Jerry Red introduced a countermotion asking the council to vote on the issue immediately.
The resolution to have the statue removed initially cleared a council committee in March. The full council took up the issue later that month, but the council voted to postpone a vote until their April meeting after a two-hour debate.
Former district attorney Charles Cravins and former Opelousas city judge Vanessa Harris advocated for the monument's removal. Both were the first Black person to hold his or her respective position. Harris now serves as an ad hoc judge on the Lafayette City Court, where she's filling a vacancy left by the resignation of Michelle Odinet, who stepped down after she was caught on video using racist language. Harris is the first Black judge to sit on the Lafayette City Court's bench.
Cravins told the council that the monument was a painful reminder of life under Jim Crow, including the equal justice and equal protection under the law denied to Blacks during that era. Cravins also maintains the Ku Klux Klan and Confederate iconography on the monument were designed to intimidate Blacks who sought justice in the legal system and who wanted to register to vote.
Supporters argued that the monument was truly a tribute to Confederate veterans who died in battle during the Civil War.
The Confederate memorial was erected in front of the courthouse by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and dedicated on February 22, 1920. The UDC built the memorial after several years of calls by prominent St. Landry Parish residents to build a monument honoring those who fought for the Confederate cause in the Civil War.
The St. Landry Parish monument predated Lafayette's Alfred Mouton statue by two years. Lafayette Consolidated Government removed the Mouton statue in 2021.
According to St. Landry Parish Councilman Dexter Brown, there is no timetable for removing the statue. Brown says the parish government will work with the United Daughters of the Confederacy or the Sons of Confederate Veterans to find a suitable location for the statue before it's moved.