Confederate statue, courthouse fence proposals advance

Updated: Aug. 17, 2017 at 5:48 PM CDT
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(Source: KSLA News 12)
(Source: KSLA News 12)

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Recommendations to erect a fence around the Caddo Courthouse grounds and to keep the Confederate memorial on the north side of the courthouse grounds are one step closer to being considered by parish leaders.

A citizens advisory subcommittee turned its recommendation on the statue over to the Caddo Commission's Long-Range Planning/Special Projects Committee at the end of the latter panel's meeting Thursday afternoon.

R.J. Johnson. who chaired the citizens group, literally handed over the binder containing the group's recommendation to Mario Chavez, chairman of the Long-Range Planning/Special Projects Committee.

"The chairman showed up and asked if he could legally hand it off to us, so that means that their term is over," Chavez said.

"They've done their civic duty and we appreciate them because they've worked hard," he continued. "Whatever they come up with, we will now call the next Long-Range Planning meeting and the committee members and the chair, we will sit down and go through their resolution."

That recommendation, approved during a meeting last week, is to:

  • keep the Confederate monument outside parish courthouse,
  • erecting a plaque near the monument to add historical context, and,
  • build two monuments dedicated to Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement.

The Long-Range/Special Projects Committee will consider the recommendation Sept. 5.

Depending on what happens then, the recommendation could then advance to a final vote by Caddo commissioners.

"I was very proud of the citizens subcommittee, of the work that they did because I was able to hear the voice of the whole, of the parish, because people really came out," Chavez said.

The Long-Range/Special Projects Committee also decided to send to the commission a proposal to erect a $200,000 fence around the courthouse grounds.

Commissioners suggested the perimeter several weeks ago as a way of helping prevent vandalism and homelessness on the courthouse grounds.

Caddo sheriff's deputies spoke with committee members Thursday about how protesters lately have been using the courthouse grounds instead of the designated sidewalk.

And deputies stressed the need for more protection for the courthouse in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Va.

"As far as the Sheriff's Office, we're prepared to respond to civil unrest and things of that nature. I'm not sure that our counterparts are," sheriff's Capt. D.L. Jones said.

"It's no longer a matter of if. It's a matter of when," he added.

Before sending the fence measure to the commission, committee members added a provision that allows commissioners to choose between erecting a full fence or using a portable fence with adjustable pipe connectors known as fence bullets.

Chavez said he hopes to have votes on the Confederate monument and courthouse fence proposals during the same parish commission meeting, which has yet to be scheduled.

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