SHREVEPORT – Now that Mitch Landrieu has removed four Confederate era monuments in New Orleans, supposedly we can expect two things as stated by the mayor himself:
Crime will drop and the city will unify.
New Orleans population will swell to pre-Katrina numbers.
Over the past few weeks Landrieu has used the city’s firefighters and police force to work, masked and in the dark of night, to remove these four landmarks which are now in an unsecured maintenance trash yard in NOLA.
Various local media polls in New Orleans showed a majority supported leaving the monuments in place. The monument opponents, however, were more vocal.
Mitch Landrieu credits former NOLA resident Wynton Marsalis with the impetus to remove the monuments. Marsalis, who lives in New York, penned an OpEd for the Times-Picayune in December 2015 in which he stated:
“When one surveys the accomplishments of our local heroes across time from Iberville and Bienville, to Andrew Jackson, from Mahalia Jackson, to Anne Rice and Fats Domino, from Wendell Pierce, to John Besh and Jonathan Batiste, what did Robert E. Lee do to merit his distinguished position? He fought for the enslavement of a people against our national army fighting for their freedom; killed more Americans than any opposing general in history; made no attempt to defend or protect this city; and even more absurdly, he never even set foot in Louisiana.”
Mitch Landrieu has displayed an astounding lack of transparency on the removal process. Landrieu promised the courts that qualified contractors would be used in removal. This was a lie. Landrieu used city firefighters to remove the monuments and live feeds of the removal of each monument was evidence enough of their ineptness and inexperience with removal of priceless works of public art as the statues twirled perilously at the end of straps rigged around them supported by bubble wrap and while removal cranes burned rubber trying to get closer to their targets and leaked hydraulic fluid everywhere.
“I will say this for the people that are interested in the costs. The cultural, economic, and spiritual loss to the city for having those statues up that have run people out of the city. The great migration that sent some of our best and brightest to place across the country that we don’t have the benefit of has been incredible.” said Landrieu.
It’s as if it never crossed his mind that high crime, pot-hole ridden streets, corrupt government, failing schools, no jobs, and high taxes might be a contributing factor to the problems in New Orleans.
As we reflect over the travesty of the Landrieu administration, one has to consider his motives in all of this. There have been rumors of a job offer from Al Sharpton for Landrieu, there have been rumors of the mayor having national political ambitions, and there have been rumors of motivations in Landrieu’s personal life for removal of these monuments.
Water under the bridge.
What is left in the wake of all this is a once beautiful city now more racially divided than ever. A city that came together in unity after Hurricane Katrina that is now ripped and torn at the seams. A city with a crime rate that makes it the most dangerous city in the country.
As I have documented this story on this blog through the past months, it has been with the purpose to acknowledge that this can happen in any city in any state in the country. As a people we must find a way to live together and to reconcile ourselves with our differing opinions and perspectives. States all across the South are struggling with this Civil War monument issue – some choosing to protect their monuments and some not. Some choose to add other monuments to appease the opponents (they call it ”balancing the story” but it is appeasement). Some choose to add “interpretive plaques” that retell the story in a more politically correct light.
The ignorance of our society, and the willingness to too many to avoid the study of history, is where this emanates from. Had Mitch Landrieu done one iota of research, for example, he would have known that Robert E. Lee had been in New Orleans. That was never the point.
As for the crime issue, the city has 76 murders this year so far, well above the rate last year. And on Saturday night, for example, with all four monuments now gone, the shootings and violence continue. Two men were shot in downtown New Orleans Saturday night and another stabbed with a screwdriver.
SHREVEPORT – Another week, another Confederate era monument gone. In the early morning hours Thursday morning, the twenty-five foot bronze statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was ripped from its granite pedestal by city crews (which one again included city firefighters) hiding behind masks as monument supporters who had stood vigil all night long quietly sang “Dixie.” Some stood and solemnly saluted the desecrated statue of Davis as the statue was lowered onto a rented flatbed truck..
Crews gathered around the statue just after midnight, partially wrapped the statue’s mid-section in green bubble wrap, tied a thick yellow strap around the torso, and lifted the statue, Davis’s arm pointing at both demonstrators and supporters as the statue twirled in mid-air. A makeshift crate was placed around Davis and crews lowered the statue onto the back of a flatbed truck and hauled it off to an undisclosed warehouse.
The pedestal is another matter – it took the untrained city contractors several more hours to figure out how to remove the heavy granite pedestal which sat most of the morning with a limp strap around it while engineers phoned into television stations warning that if it was lifted it would probably tip the truck over. It is as if Jefferson Davis himself was mocking them, declaring his right to be there as the inscription on the pedestal reads, “His name is enshrined in the hearts of the people for whom he suffered, and his deeds are forever wedded to immortality.”
Arlene Barnum was there. She came to New Orleans as soon as Mayor Landrieu had Liberty Place monument removed three weeks ago; she’s been standing guard at the Jefferson Davis monument day in and day out with a growing crowd of supporters. Arlene is a 63-year old black woman from Oklahoma, an Army veteran, and a woman with Confederate ancestors from north Louisiana. She felt that as “the one and only president of the Confederacy,” she was obligated to stand with Davis. As she stood at the monument, Arlene has been called a variety of racial slurs: “Aunt Jemima” seems to have been the most offensive to her. Her truck tires were slashed, her cell phone was knocked from her hand as she tried to live stream, and she has gone without much sleep.
Arlene has been dubbed “General Arlene” by some of the other monument supporters standing guard with her, and they have followed her lead. She has encouraged peaceful protest and non-violence. “Fly those flags high,” she would shout, “Keep ‘em up! Don’t let that flag touch the ground!” Pastor Larry Beane from Salem Lutheran Church led the crowd in a prayer service before the city workers came to dismantle the monument.
Mitch Landrieu spent the evening hobnobbing with donors at the home of Mary Matalin and James Carville for Mitch Landrieu’s NOLA Pac.
After nearly two years of planning and court battles, City officials began the process today of removing the three remaining monuments that prominently celebrate the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy.” The statues that are being removed were erected decades after the Civil War to celebrate the “Cult of the Lost Cause,” a movement recognized across the South as celebrating and promoting white supremacy.
There are four prominent monuments in question. The Battle of Liberty Place monument, which was removed three weeks ago, was erected by the Crescent City White League to remember the deadly insurrection led by white supremacists against the City’s racially integrated police department and government. The statue coming down today is the Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway. The statues slated to come down next include the Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Circle and the P.G.T. Beauregard equestrian statue on Esplanade Avenue at the entrance to City Park.
“Three weeks ago, we began a challenging but long overdue process of removing four statues that honor the ‘Lost Cause of the Confederacy.’ Today we continue the mission,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “These monuments have stood not as historic or educational markers of our legacy of slavery and segregation, but in celebration of it. I believe we must remember all of our history, but we need not revere it. To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in some of our most prominent public places is not only an inaccurate reflection of our past, it is an affront to our present, and a bad prescription for our future. We should not be afraid to confront and reconcile our past.”
There is much about this statement that I personally find disturbing. Mayor Landrieu shows his gross gap of historical knowledge and research when he contends that the monument were erected to celebrate and promote white supremacy. That could not be more wrong.
The majority of the Confederate era monuments across the South were funded by memorial associations and by the Daughters of the Confederacy to honor their war dead. They wanted to honor the sons and husbands that would never come home, many of whom were buried in places unknown. Additionally, the monuments were intended to be instructional and to serve as historical reminders of that war, to teach future generations. For Landrieu to slant their intent in such a way is flatly irresponsible.
Landrieu’s statement goes on to say that “we must remember all of our history, but we need not revere it.” Who is he to tell us what we can and can not revere? Who made him the moral judge of society?
And when he calls the Confederacy “an inaccurate reflection of our past,” what is he saying about my ancestors that fought in that war? About the thousands of other men and boys who fought in that war on both sides?
Finally, when Landrieu says, “we should not be afraid to confront and reconcile our past,” let me just suggest that he is MOST afraid of it or he wouldn’t have our past crated up in the dark of night and hauled off to some undisclosed warehouse.
Rumors are that he will sell the monuments to Whitney Plantation where they will be mocked and derided as relics of men who defended slavery. So much for presenting an accurate representation of history.
Still to come down in New Orleans is the P.G.T. Beauregard monument and the Robert E. Lee monument. The protests and violence will continue, and the rift between groups grows wider.
As New Orleans scrapes away everything that once made it unique and historic, it will soon become just like any other city in America and there will be no reason to go visit. It is being turned over to the Antifa liberals and now has a higher homicide rate than Chicago, but please, let’s worry about monuments instead.
SHREVEPORT – If Hurricane Katrina united New Orleans in the common cause of “love thy neighbor,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu has successfully decimated all remnants of civility and has created a cultural divide that has ripped the city apart and has cast New Orleans in a negative light in the eyes of the national lens.
As Landrieu continues to staunchly defend his decision to remove the city’s Confederate monuments, supporters (both black and white) have taken positions days and night at the monuments to protect them. Two weeks ago Landrieu removed one of the four, the Liberty Place monument, in the dead of night using a team of city firefighters wearing masks and protective armor.
Even as monument supporters had a large measure of victory this week with the passage of HB71 from committee, tension about the monuments rose. This bill would presumably protect the monuments:
House Bill 71 would forbid the removal, renaming or alteration of any military monument of any war, including the “War Between the States,” that is situated on public property. The measure was amended to require the support of a majority of voters in a public election before any monuments could be removed.
TAKE EM DOWN NOLA CALLS FOR PEOPLES CELEBRATION & SECOND LINE TO BURY WHITE SUPREMACY
While white supremacists gather from many states around confederate monuments in OUR CITY, the mayor nor council has still not publicly called for its own ceremony to honor the historic occasion of 4 monuments to slavery coming down. Even the conservative governor of S.C. had a public ceremony to remove the confederate flag.
Cowering in darkness offers no safety or protection, it is shameful and being questioned by world wide media.
What does this say to Black youth? What does this teach white youth?
All eyes are on New Orleans. It is fitting that during Jazz Fest the people have our voices heard. Not just on the monuments, but for racial equality and economic justice for those who built New Orleans, whose heritage is leveraged for profit and who are being displaced.
In the name of the good people of New Orleans, in honor of our civil rights veterans who fought for decades for their removal, in appreciation of the Black community, elders and youth Take Em Down NOLA is issuing this call for everyone to come out!
Meet at Congo Square at 1:30pm.
March to Lee Circle.
Make History! Take down Robert E. Lee and ALL symbols of White Supremacy!
By noon Sunday protesters were gathering on both sides. Monument supporters were getting information and security, how to handle pepper spray attacks, and cautionary information about Antifa. New Orleans police began installing barricades around Lee Circle; the Jefferson Davis monument has been blocked off all week after violent clashes last weekend between both sides.
Large black busses with blacked out windows were moving into the city in the morning filled with Antifa protestors.
But, through the day, for the most part things remained non-violent. Tense, but non-violent. There were a couple of fights and skirmishes that were quickly put down, but by early evening crowds had dispersed and traffic lanes were reopened.
The focus then moved to the Jefferson Davis monument where reports were that a large Antifa group was congregating to harass supporters there. But other than the exchange of hot words, everything was calm.
Overall, thankfully the protests did not end in the free-for-all that was anticipated but what did come out of it all was a clarification that contrary to Governor John Bel Edwards’s stance that the monuments “are a local issue,” clearly it has surpassed that. Mitch Landrieu made it NOT a local issue when he called in State and Federal Law Enforcement from all over the state to New Orleans using Department of Homeland Security emergency measures. This makes is a national issue, being paid for with state and federal tax dollars.
And this means John Bel Edwards now has to get off the fence.
SHREVEPORT – Arlene Barnum is a 63-year old Army veteran, a black woman, and is on the front lines in New Orleans standing guard at the Jefferson Davis monument.
Arlene lives in Sulpher, Oklahoma but had been in north Louisiana in the small community of Keachi in DeSoto parish to attend an annual Confederate memorial service where her ancestors who fought for the Confederacy are buried. Arlene attends the ceremony every year and maintains her family’s graves there. She was raised in north Louisiana and takes great pride in her Confederate ancestry.
The day after the memorial service Mitch Landrieu removed one of the four targeted Confederate monuments in New Orleans in the dead of night, using firefighters working undercover, behind masks and flak jackets. Arlene decided to drive to NOLA rather than return to Oklahoma and there she has been, standing guard every night at the feet of Jefferson Davis. There has been a growing crowd around her each night of fellow supporters, most of them with the various flags of the Confederacy, including the much maligned battle flag.
No stranger to racial violence, Arlene live streams her vigil every night. She has now posted hours of video on Facebook. She doesn’t engage those that attempt to challenge her or debate her right to defend the monument. “They don’t care about education,” she says. “They come up to me and ask me to tell them about the Confederacy, I tell them to look it up. They don’t care what I have to say.” She just wants to stand guard peacefully.
Yet Saturday night things got heated. Saturday night a millennial liberal assaulted Arlene, hurling racial insults at her and then swatting Arlene’s phone to the ground. It was all captured on video. Arlene has filed a police report and obviously there are excellent pictures of the woman, but will she be found? Will the police even look for her?
Also on video from Saturday night are New Orleans police officers called to the scene who said they have been told to “stand down” by the mayor’s office. They are not to enforce peace at these demonstrations that are now ripping New Orleans apart. They are not to act. While Arlene Barnum did insist they make a report on her assault, it is doubtful much will come of it.
“The bottom line is with these Confederate monuments, it’s not really something we deal with as firefighters,” New Orleans Fire Fighters Associations President Nick Felton said, addressing reporters after almost an hour inside City Hall speaking with Landrieu’s team. “We should not be in riot gear. We should not be doing police-type work and we are absolutely concerned, you know, that that type of thing is going on.”
During the lengthy litigation as the monument issue made its way through the court system, all the way to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Landrieu assured the courts that monument removal would be done safely by contractors trained in monument removal. Obviously this was not the case.
Landrieu had only one contractor submit a bid to remove the monuments and it was far and above the money he had collected “from private donations” to fund removal, so apparently he decided to use city resources. He is now using a private non-profit group (exempt from public scrutiny) to fund removal.
Landrieu’s decision to have police officers stand down is a clear attempt to further his cause to remove these monuments to history. He has stated that the monuments are “nuisances” and contribute to the racial divide in the city. If there are now protests, violence, and assaults of 63-year old women, this serves to support his position. Arlene Barnum is smart enough to know that engaging the opposing side only supports Landrieu and provokes more heated confrontations and she has tried to protest quietly and without conflict.
Monument supporters standing guard at the P.G.T. Beauregard monument have been assaulted with paintball guns, had bottles and rocks thrown at them, and endure a barrage of verbal insults. Still the police stand down. Like Arlene Barnum, Andrew Duncomb, (aka The Black Rebel), streams live on Facebook from his position at Beauregard. Duncomb is less reticent than Arlene Barnum in verbal engagement and things at Beauregard have been heated as well.
It seems at this point Mayor Landrieu has been successful in removing one of his four targeted monuments, created a terrible racial divide in an already troubled city, compromised the position of the New Orleans Fire Department, and probably broken a few laws in having them remove Liberty Place monument, and he has created an ocean of ill will.
The intensity escalates and we can only wait to see what the coming days will bring. We can only hope that there are no more physical attacks on people like Arlene Barnum who are peacefully executing their rights to free speech.
SHREVEPORT — In the continuing saga over the New Orleans Confederate monuments, word leaked out late last week that Mayor Mitch Landrieu was planning to begin monument removal in the dead of night before the Easter holiday weekend.
With the Louisiana legislature now in session, and with several bills in play to preserve the monuments, Landrieu’s office is likely feeling some pressure to get them down quickly.
Meanwhile, a feud has erupted between The Advocate, Baton Rouge’s flagship newspaper, and one grassroots preservation group, Save Our Circle. The Advocate has reported that the Save Our Circle members are threatening the contractor hired to remove the monuments, a fact the SoS members deny. Save Our Circle has an active Facebook page with over 13,000 members and while not all members live in New Orleans, all do have an interest in preserving the historical monuments.
When interviewed about the threats, a spokesman for Save our Circle, George Peterson, explained that their Facebook group is a peaceful one and that moderators try to block or remove any posts or comments that reflect otherwise. At the same time Peterson pointed out threats made by the Take ‘Em Down NOLA group which seem to rise far and above anything Save Our Circle members tolerate from their members:
Peterson insisted the Save Our Circle group is peaceful and that it is supporters of taking down the monuments who pose truly violent threats. He pointed to a tire that was set on fire at Confederate Memorial Hall near Lee Circle after Donald Trump’s presidential election and to threats by Take ‘Em Down NOLA — a group pushing for the removal of the four monuments and other statues honoring slaveholders — to drag the statue of Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square off its pedestal.
In addition, he said that some of those who showed up at a September protest at the Jackson statue wore masks and carried anarchist flags, and he noted that the monuments have repeatedly been vandalized with graffiti calling for their removal and some more violent messages such as “Die whites die.”
“I implore you to utilize the powers bestowed upon the Office of the President in the Antiquities Act, passed by Congress in 1906, which granted you the authority to declare by public proclamation, historic and prehistoric structures and other objects of historic significance as national monuments,” Nungesser wrote to Trump, according to WWL-TV.
With Landrieu now having made clear he has no qualms about moving in the dead of night to remove the monuments, everyone is now on high alert. Legislators are getting slammed with emails and phone calls from all over the country to support the preservation bills.
Regardless of how one feels about the Confederacy or about monuments in general, the bigger issue is the slippery slope this argument represents. The ever present “What is next?” question looms. Some are now even calling for removal of lamp posts in NOLA.
SHREVEPORT – The feud between Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and Baton Rouge Representative Garrett Graves over the slow response of Louisiana in flood recovery efforts escalated last week when the Edwards camp accused Rep. Graves of spreading false information about the release of federal money given to the state.
Flood victims in need of assistance are waiting on the state government to act. The $1.65 billion that is available TODAY to the state of Louisiana for flood recovery will never be wired to a Louisiana-controlled account; that’s not how it works. It will stay at the HUD CFO Accounting Center in Fort Worth and the state will draw down the money as necessary.
The first step is for the State to upload its Action Plan to HUD’s software pictured in the screenshot. The reason it says $0 is because the state hasn’t uploaded its plan.
Once the state does upload the plan, the process will work like this:
Let’s say The Action Plan budgets $25 mm for drywall and the state needs to purchase $10 mm now.
The State submits a draw request for $10 mm and then the state gets paid within 72 hours. Now the state’s drywall budget is $15mm and so on…
The bottom line is that the state has known for more than 191 days (Sept. 28 is when Congress appropriated funds) that it would receive federal disaster money through the CDGB program, and should be ready to disburse those funds. They’re not ready.
Everything else you’re hearing is noise.
Louisiana is one of the most frequent users of DRGR. The state should be able to submit action plan in its sleep. Commissioner Dardenne is on the radio is saying it is being uploaded now – hurry up.
The spokesman for Governor Edwards, Richard Carbo, says “Graves’ information is inaccurate and the federal government hasn’t yet released the money to the state to spend. The line of credit “has not yet been set up.”
Clearly, the government hasn’t released the money because the state has not submitted an action plan as required or hired a contractor to oversee rebuilding. Why haven’t they done that?
Meanwhile, as I reported last week, Louisianians are not waiting on the politicians. The Cajun Navy worked alongside first responders when the floods happened in August 2016 to rescue people, pets, and property, and now the Cajun Relief Foundation is working through crowd funding to get people the financial help they need.
Nobody has made a full-on indictment of Edwards’ immediate response to the August floods, though he certainly wasn’t perfect – and it’s fair to say he got bailed out by the Cajun Navy, which filled in a lot of the gaps. But in the effort to get federal dollars into Louisiana to make flood recovery happen as quickly as possible, Edwards has been an unmitigated failure – and if Louisiana’s newspapers weren’t so nakedly partisan on his side the governor would have been thoroughly excoriated for it.
Hopefully the politicians can get their red tape untangled before the next flood hits.
SHREVEPORT — I wrote on this blog a couple of weeks ago about the excellent work the Cajun Relief Foundation is doing in helping Louisiana’s flood victims get back on their feet as the politicians dicker over who will oversee the $1.6 billion in federal relief dollars. As of this date, none of that relief money has been disbursed to flood victims to help rebuild their gutted homes.
Cajun Relief Foundation now has their crowd-funding site set up to where you can donate everything from dish towels to stoves to those people who are trying to recover after the August 2016 floods.
[Judy] currently rents a mobile home near her Holden Residence. Her home has been family owned since the ’60’s. Although it was devastated by 4′ of flood water, she’s grateful to God for the safety of her elderly parents.
Upon her return home, she discovered that little was salvageable. Among her greatest losses were Bibles, yearbooks, photo albums, and industrial art furniture pieces designed by her brothers. After the flood, Judy discovered “cotton balls” in which a friend quickly revealed was mold. Staying in the home profoundly impacted her health. Judy is a cancer patient. Unable to eat for two weeks, her health declined and she fell ill with a bacterial infection. Although her health has improved, she remains on a breathing machine. Her home has been gutted and treated for mold; however, reconstruction has yet to begin. Judy has $15,000 in funds to complete the work. Her brother is eager to help, but without supplies, he’s concerned, as labor costs alone would quickly deplete the funds.
There is a list of items you can donate through the site to help Judy: she needs towels ($25), a dryer ($300), dishes ($50) all the way up to building supplies like sheetrock and insulation.
At 70 years old, disabled, diabetic and blind in one eye, due to a failed cataract surgery, he just took life as it came and enjoyed being with his neighbors. The great flood of August 2016 was unlike anything he’d ever seen before and turned his once relatively easy going life, upside down.
When the August storm hit the water began to rise quickly. A friend tried to get to Nataniel by truck, but the water was starting to come up into the truck cab. After parking a distance away on higher ground, Nathaniel’s friend was able to reach him and pull him to safety through waist deep water. For six months after the flood Nathaniel was displaced and stayed with his sister. Everything in his home was lost.
In spite of losing many of his neighbors who were displaced due to the overwhelming devastation, Nathaniel has kept is positive spirit. Even surviving with no stove, no hot water, and no refrigerator, he remains active in service to those around him.
He needs silverware ($30), a water heater ($700), refrigerator ($600), pots and pans ($60), etc.
There are many other cases on the Cajun Relief crowd-funding page. If you can help any of these people rebuild their lives and make a donation, by all means do so. If you can’t, just sharing it on your social media can help.
Go here to read about the crowd-funding and about Cajun Relief Foundation. They’re doing the hard work of interviewing and documenting all of these flood victims and their needs. A caseworker is assigned to each flood victim and that caseworker follows up on needs, talks to the person, ensures items get delivered to that victim, and serves as an advocate for that person’s needs.
SHREVEPORT – Hello, slippery slope. It didn’t take long for you to appear.
I’ve always noted that once the green light was given by the 5th Circuit to remove the New Orleans monuments that the slippery slope of further changes would break open. And so it has.
Read the list of names that activist group Take ‘Em Down NOLA wants changed because they celebrate white supremacy.
One is Touro Hospital.
Touro Hospital is named for Judah Touro, who was the son of Jewish immigrants and was born in Rhode Island. Touro fought in the Battle of 1812 and later worked in shipping, trade, and real estate. He lived a simple life and donated a lot of money across the country. In New Orleans one of his charitable works was to establish what would become Touro Hospital – the largest charity hospital in Louisiana.
But that’s racist, so it must go.
Tulane University must apparently change its name as well.
Why? Because founder Paul Tulane donated large sums of money to the Confederate States of America.
Never mind that he gave large charitable donations to charities throughout New Orleans and that he worked to raise the quality of higher education in the city.
Most of the things on this list are absurd and I’d venture to say that 99.9% of the people in New Orleans don’t have one idea who Judah Touro was or who Lane Street is named for. In fact, maybe we should quit calling the place in the road where one drives a “lane” – perhaps that too is racist.
There is still hope that some of this madness will end. Two upcoming bills in the Louisiana Legislature may still protect these monuments and legacy names; similar bills have been successful in nearby states.
This is perplexing because in every other instance when anyone wants to tear down a historic site or building, the proposed destroyer must have a plan in place for what will be replacing the historic site and why it is justifiable. A year a and a half later, the City Council has not called a meeting to discuss future artwork options. None of the organizations—Historic District Landmarks Commission and Human Relations Commission—that rubber stamped Landrieu’s cause have called such a meeting. Nothing is planned. No public discussions held. No artists commissioned. No money for new monuments mentioned. Mitch is the man without a plan.
I’m sure Take’Em Down NOLA has some ideas but, well, there’s that slippery slope again.
In the ruling, the three-judge panel with the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the groups trying to block the removal of the monuments, Monumental Task Committee and the Louisiana Landmarks Society, failed to present a case that contained a legal argument that showed the monuments should stay up. The court wrote that the groups relied on two legal claims, “both of which wholly lack legal viability or support.”
Immediately following the decision, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s team opened up the bidding process, this time with the promise of confidentiality for the bidders. The last time bids were solicited, things turned ugly when bidders were threatened and in once case a Lamborghini was torched.
In an interview with NPR on Saturday, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu said that it’s important to take the statues down for the reason that post-Katrina he and his staff decided to rebuild the city as “it always should have been and not the way that it’s been developed over time” – as if he is the only person that gets to decide that. Landrieu says the Robert E. Lee statue is there for the sole reason that Lee led an army against the United States of America for the purposes of telling African Americans that they were less than human.” I contend that Mayor Landrieu needs a few history classes.
Why the city of New Orleans seems to be in such a rush to knock [the monuments] off their respective pedestals is curious as 1) two polls conducted in the city showed only tepid support for removing the monuments (34% and 50%) and 2) the city has yet to figure out what to do with the statues.
It is unclear at this point what the next step will be. There is growing sentiment now that at least with regard to the Lee monument, which stands 16.5 feet tall atop a 68-foot tall pedestal, the city should be required to remove the entire pedestal, which it is reluctant to do. Supporters do not want Landrieu to be able to plop a monument to a character of his own choosing atop the Lee pedestal.
Certainly once we begin to sanitize and remove history we are on a slippery slope. There is no end to it. Regardless of how one feels on the issue of the Confederacy, once we begin removing works of public art because of dissenting opinions we are no better than censors and become one with the propagandists who would have you stick your head in the sand, ready to rewrite history.
SHREVEPORT – Bear with me, readers, for this week I’m bringing you a local problem but it is one that needs national attention in order for it to be rectified. Your help is needed.
Our local animal shelter is deplorable. The city of Shreveport has a population of just over 200,000 people, and we are the third largest city in the state of Louisiana, yet we can’t seem to figure out how to run a humane animal shelter. The problems at Caddo Parish Animal Services are epic and have been going on for years. Any attempt to solve the problem has only been a token one.
Consider the following:
July 2007: CPAS director fired for failing to properly perform his duties, for example: failing to do rabies tests on a racoon that had scratched a man, among other offenses.
October 2013: Karen Dent’s Golden Retriever escaped her backyard when a tree fell on a fence; CPAS picked up the dog. Dent called the shelter and was told she could claim her dog, but when she arrived the dog had been euthanized.
October 2013: A puppy was found in September in a Shreveport storage locker, abandoned and left to die. Literally at death’s door, he was rescued and taken to the emergency vet clinic and then transferred to Benton Animal Hospital. By October he was in foster care with a vet tech and making a nice recovery at which time CPAS comes to their home and seizes the emaciated, still very fragile dog, as evidence of the animal abandonment crime. “Braveheart” was heartlessly placed in a kennel at CPAS rather than allowed to stay in foster care under the attention of a vet tech. Massive public outcry resulted in animal cruelty charges against the owner of the storage locker. (Braveheart’s story has a happy ending.)
August 2014: Adoptions volunteer Reed Ebarb resigned his position at CPAS after director Everett Harris verbally attacked Ebarb and his attempts to move more dogs into rescue and off the euthanasia list. Ebarb was vigilant in compiling and reporting monthly euthanasia rates to the public which was often well over 70%.
March 2015: Two malnourished dogs, dubbed Lucky and T-Bone, were picked up by CPAS after a citizen complaint of neglect, found to be full of parasites, yet when PetSavers Rescue offered to take the dogs and vet them, director Everett Harris denied the request, igniting yet another firestorm of public outcry.
August 2015: Amanda Middleton was travelling through Shreveport, blew a tire, and her dog, Libby ran off and got lost. Libby was lost for two days before being found and taken to CPAS where a microchip was scanned and her family identified. A Humane Society volunteer had permission from the eight-months pregnant Middleton to retrieve the dog and meet Middleton halfway to return the pup, but director Everett Harris refused to release the dog to anyone but Middleton, despite written permission from Middleton to do so. Middleton drove all the way back to Shreveport from Houston to get her dog.
August 2015: CPAS director Everett Harris was placed on administrative leave, and then resigned, after posting an offensive photo on Facebook of dogs with a Star of David and Nazi symbols drawn on their heads and the caption “How to deal with the difficulties of life.” He said he meant to post the picture to a private account rather than the public CPAS page. Harris was on paid leave for several months, then terminated.
October 2016: Amber McMillan’s two dog were euthanized despite her multiple visits to CPAS searching for them. McMillan contends that her dogs were not in any of the stray hold kennels she was shown when she went to the shelter. She showed photos of her dogs to the employees at the shelter and filed paperwork. The dogs were killed nine days after intake.
November 2016: DeAnna Robinson adopted a large breed dog from CPAS; he weighed only 30 pounds when she brought him home. He was emaciated and could barely walk. He had been housed in a kennel at the shelter with five other dogs.
December 2016: A stray dog, “Ellie,” wanders into a man’s yard; the man brings his own dog outside and orders it to attack Ellie who subsequently dies from her injuries. The event is captured on video which creates a social media firestorm. CPAS fails to press charges, thereby sanctioning the inhumane attack.
December 2016: “Tini” was picked up by CPAS on December 30 after being hit by a car; her owners determined that Tini was at the shelter but they were not allowed to pick her up for four days, despite that fact that the dog had a broken jaw and other injuries and needed immediate medical care. Because of the New Year’s Eve holiday, Tini had to stay in the shelter rather than be reunited with her family.
January 2017: Big Fluffy Dog Rescue out of Nashville TN, came to CPAS to pull two dogs but left with 17, and later came back for more, because of the deplorable conditions in which they found the dogs in the CPAS shelter, which included inadequate medical care for broken bones, malnourished dogs, and overcrowded kennels. BFDR is urging public outcry against the abuses at the Caddo Parish shelter.
January 2017: A citizens meeting to discuss continued problems at CPAS is attended by two Caddo Parish Commissioners who cite lack of first-hand accounts as one reason why no change has been made at CPAS.
February 2017: CPAS kennel worker placed on leave, and then fired, for having sex with a dog. The act was filmed by another CPAS worker. Where this act actually took place has not been revealed; reports are that it was not at the shelter, but does it matter?
Obviously, the problems at the shelter are ongoing and it doesn’t seem to matter who the director is. Meanwhile, literally hundreds of dogs (and cats) are euthanized each month. The shelter’s euthanasia rate is right around 50 to 60% right now, down from previous years where there was a 77% or more euthanasia rate. This decline is due to the help of some tireless rescue groups and an improved willingness by the current director to work with rescues.
There are volunteer rescue groups that work to pull dogs from the shelter and take them to states “up north” where stricter spay/neuter laws have resulted in lower numbers of available pets. Our dogs have a much better chance at adoption there.
That being said, this shelter still needs major change. State inspections have taken place but they are announced at least ten days in advance which gives the shelter time to clean up their act. After the public meeting in January, two Caddo Commissioners toured the shelter, but again, it was announced.
The Parish Administrator, Dr. Woody Wilson, has control over this situation. He works for the Caddo Parish Commission, but his oversight of CPAS operates is completely independent. There is no system of checks and balances and Wilson has the final, and only, voice.
Granted, we have a huge problem here in unwanted animals; too many people in this area see animals as property and all too often refuse to get their animals spayed or neutered. The director’s job at the shelter is a huge one. But it’s clear to me that this director has lost the faith of the public by this most recent string of allegations, and something must be done.
For years, and years, we’ve been told by the Parish Administrator that they are revisiting and reviewing laws, policies, and procedures yet we are still battling this issue. The public outcry rises, we get lip service, public outcry dies down, and the cycle continues. When public outcry rises, we are dismissed as crazy animal people who get their information from social media. When citizens go to shelter board meetings to voice concern, they are quickly shut down if their experience is not first-hand.
It appears that the only thing that might work is a national outcry. This shelter administration needs to be completely rebooted. They all need to go. If qualified, they can be rehired; if not, more the better.
This shelter needs to be cleaned up, literally; all policies need to be examined, updated, revised. Dogs in stray/hold, for example, are kept in outdoor pens regardless of the weather. Too many dogs are crowded into pens thus creating feeding issues and fights. When Big Fluffy Dog Rescue pulled their thirty dogs, they wrote:
Caddo Parish Animal Shelter in Louisiana has been the subject of serious complaints for years. In January, Big Fluffy Dog Rescue took in more than 30 dogs from this shelter. Most of the dogs were emaciated, many had serious health issues and most had bite wounds consistent with fighting for resources. Big Fluffy Dog Rescue attempted without success to determine whether the cause of the animals’ suffering was the shelter itself or if the dogs came in to the shelter in that condition. Caddo Parish did not appropriately investigate the issue and the concerns of animal rescuers were largely swept under the carpet and derided by the local government as unfounded. Local media covered the story.
There is a veterinarian “on call” but not on site. Dogs with broken bones or other injuries languish. There is no feral cat or TNR program; there are no online records – everything is still done on paper. If a volunteer speaks out or complains about conditions or abuse, they are banned from the shelter. Quite often they choose to remain silent so they can continue to help the animals in the shelter. Any online presence is due to the work of volunteers. If you go to the shelter’s page and click on animals for adoption, you might find a few, but these are out of date and do not nearly reflect the number of available animals.
The issues are epic. But at the very least, the neglect, abuse, and miscommunication must be stopped. And sex with animals? Please. Is this the best we can do with vetting our employees (this woman was a paid employee – not a volunteer!).
To be clear, I’m not calling for the firing of current director Chuck Wilson; while he may not be perfect, many of the volunteers appreciate his efforts yet Wilson is hogtied by the current structure of oversight. The source of the problem lies in the fact that the control is all with the Parish Administrator Woody Wilson who has shown very little interest in making this shelter a safe and humane shelter for animals.
Please share this with any animal rights advocates or organizations you know that might be able to help the citizens of Caddo Parish clean up this shelter and turn this situation around. Ideally the shelter should be privatized or turned over to a competent, established rescue with a humanitarian mission. Please email or write letters, polite and respectful letters, to Parish Administrator Woody Wilson, and the Assistant Parish Administrator who is reportedly working Woody Wilson’s job while he is being investigated on a residency issue.
A national outcry is the only thing we haven’t tried. There are plenty of citizens here who want to make a difference; the problem is in the politics. We need help and you can contribute by helping to shine light on this issue.