Lines drawn in legal battle over Confederate Monument in downtown Shreveport

Lines drawn in legal battle over Confederate Monument in downtown Shreveport
(Source: KSLA News 12)
(Source: KSLA News 12)

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Two sides are locked in a pitched legal battle over the Caddo Courthouse Confederate Monument controversy.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy, shot the first salvo against the Caddo Commission this week in what has already become a long and protracted battle. Caddo Commissioners voted to remove the monument back on Oct.18, then the UDC filed for a temporary restraining order just hours later.

That designation would prevent the Caddo Commission from removing the monument — at least for now.

So this week came the judge's deadline for each side to turn in their legal briefs - for and against the restraining order.

The Caddo Parish Commission responded with legal motions of their own in federal court on this Thursday, against the UDC. Last month the commission voted 7-to-5 to do remove the monument.

In its legal response, just submitted to the federal judge, the commission's legal team asked the court to dismiss individual commissioners named in the complaint and to deny the restraining order, claiming the UDC did not prove ownership of the land, or that their constitutional rights had been violated.

In its filing, the UDC cited a document from 1903, showing that the Caddo Parish Police Jury, the commission's precursor, would have given the small plot of land, where the monument now stands, to the daughters.

The commission's legal team pointed to the police jury's 1903 minutes that reserved the land in question for construction of the monument, not the original motion to give it to the UDC, especially since the state constitution at the time would have banned such arrangements in the first place.

The bottom line, according to the Caddo Commission's filing: The United Daughters of the Confederacy have no proof of a recorded deed or anything to prove its ownership of the land below their monument.

It's anticipated that the federal judge will rule at a hearing on December 11 whether or not to block the commission from removing the monument.

The commission's filing also showed estimates for the cost of removal at more than a quarter of a million dollars.

As owners of the monument, the UDC wasted no time in their legal filing, explaining why it should stay right where it has stood the last 111 years on the north side of the Caddo Parish Courthouse in downtown Shreveport.

UDC member Lynda Gramling said, "To me, that is a monument to the men who did not come home. Who we do not know where they're buried."'

The very first sentence in the U.D.C.'s memorandum filed in federal court reads:

The United Daughters of the Confederacy filed this case because of the Caddo Parish Commission's viewpoint discrimination against them.

Webster's Dictionary defines viewpoint discrimination as an unconstitutional form of discrimination against speech based on the content of the speech.

"And what's to come next?" Gramling said. "Are you going to take down the Vietnam War Memorials when someone of Asian descent complains about that? No! It's history. It's what we went through to make us who we are."

One exhibit in the U.D.C.'s legal brief is a picture of the Confederate Monument taken on May 1st, 1906. It then states that Caddo Parish does not possess any written documents either that conclusively prove ownership of the land beneath the monument.

Exhibit 2 shows the full text of the Treaty with the Tribe of Caddo in 1835, giving ownership of the land to the United States.

Then, 68 years later, in 1903, another document shows that the Caddo Parish Police Jury gave the small plot of land, where the monument now stands, to the daughters.

The lawsuit stated that in 2002, United Title of Louisiana —hired by the Caddo Commission — concluded the UDC owns the land beneath the monument.

And filed under the category of ironic, the official website for Caddo Parish still to this day states quote: "A very interesting fact about the land on which this monument sits is that it does not belong to the Commission but to the Daughters of the Confederacy."

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