By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – Are people protesting where you live? I know many cities across the nation are dealing with protests, some peaceful, some not so much.
In Shreveport, there have been protests and marches every weekend since the George Floyd incident exploded in the media. The focus of the protest this weekend seemed to center around the Confederate monument which stands in front of the courthouse. This is not news. The monument has been in litigation between the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the parish administration for years now. There is, in fact, another court date tomorrow. The protesters are angry that the monument is still there and want to see it moved to another location. Plenty of them want it simply destroyed.
I have not seen my city more racially divided since 1988 when riots erupted across Shreveport which drew national attention at the time.
Protesters gathered on the courthouse lawn Saturday and paced back and forth on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse bearing large, heavy guns. Counter-protesters in support of the monument gathered on the sidewalk across the street, also heavily armed. No weapons are allowed on courthouse grounds, of course, and so those with the weapons stayed on the sidewalk while others took turns taking the microphone to speak or share their latest musical endeavor. Club music played over the PA between speakers. For the most part, it was a peaceful demonstration although there were reportedly a couple of arrests and verbal altercations between the two sides.
As photographs of the day, and live video streaming, began to filter onto social media, people expressed outrage and concern at the large number of heavy weapons on both sides.
One car backfire on Texas Street could have turned the whole thing into a very ugly scene.
On the other hand, Louisiana is an open carry state and so as long as your AR15 is visible, it’s just fine to carry it around in public.
The BLM group has vowed to be on the courthouse lawn every Saturday until the monument is removed. As long as they have a permit, they have the right to do this.
All eyes right now will be on the court action tomorrow. The case on the Confederate monument has been in litigation for years, even up to the US Supreme Court (which declined to hear the case); the UDC and the parish are currently using different legal angles and paths to continue fighting in the courts.
Both sides of the issue vow to be in the courtroom tomorrow – this time without the weaponry.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.