Caddo commissioner reignites Confederate memorial removal debate

Published: Jul. 6, 2016 at 2:15 AM CDT
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The Confederate Memorial has sat in front of the courthouse for more than a century. (Source:...
The Confederate Memorial has sat in front of the courthouse for more than a century. (Source: KSLA News 12)

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The debate to move a Caddo Parish Confederate Monument flared up again Tuesday afternoon at the Caddo Parish Commission work session meeting. It was all started by a commissioner who wants to see the monument gone by August of 2017.

Commissioner Ken Epperson's suggestion to remove the Confederate Memorial from in front of the courthouse, once again, created a strong reaction from the community.

"I don't understand why people are wanting to change history," said Barbara Hartwell during the citizen input portion of the meeting.

"We should never spend time dishonoring sacred monuments," said another citizen. 
Epperson made a retroactive argument in favor of moving the monument. The small plot of land it sits on was donated to the United Daughters of the Confederacy over a century ago. But after all these years, Epperson claims the way land was donated wasn't legal because it wasn't done in the way land donations would be handled in present day.

His resolution reads:

"I hereby move that the Legal Department of the Parish of Caddo notify the owners of the Confederate monument located on the Texas Street side of the Caddo Parish Courthouse via certified correspondence, giving them a period of (1) one year to remove said structure from the Caddo Parish Courthouse grounds. The Period of time designated for removal shall be effective September 1, 2016, and ending on August 31, 2017. This action is based upon the opinion rendered by United Title of Louisiana, Inc., dated March 27, 2002, addressed to Mr. Dannye W. Malone, Esq. the Parish of Caddo attorney."

"We will be giving them ample time to remove that structure," Epperson said at the meeting.

Some commissioners disagreed with handling the issue outside of its designated committee.

"This is really a, respectfully, a radical move, in order to make an agenda happen, without going to the Long Range Planning committee," said Commissioner Mike Middleton.

Instead of passing on Epperson's resolution to be voted on later this week, the commission chose to send the idea to a committee.

At the meeting, Commissioners discussed putting together a citizens committee to come up with a recommendation about what they would like to see happen to this memorial.

However, there was so much disagreement, they ultimately did not come up with a specific decision about what that committee would look like.

Epperson says he wants to see the monument moved to a museum or veterans park.

Members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy have told KSLA they have no plans to move the monument.

The Long Range Planning Commission has not scheduled a date for their next meeting.

The idea to move the monument was tabled on June 9. This came after District 12 Commissioner Ken Epperson proposed a resolution that included 300-thousand dollars to replace the controversial monument with a USS Golet submarine monument honoring a Caddo Parish sailor who died on the piece of World War II history.

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