Lafayette, Louisiana rallies, removes Confederate statue in front of its city hall
The city joined 16 residents and a number of organizations in pushing forward with the removal.
On Saturday, July 17, a crowd of Louisiana residents cheered as the stone statue of a Confederate general was hoisted by a crane and removed from a pedestal where it stood in front of city hall for 99 years.
The Advertiser posted a video of the event, which transpired a day after United Daughters of the Confederacy signed a settlement agreeing to move the statue of Gen. Alfred Mouton.
Lafayette County, Mississippi says take down the Confederate statue. The board of supervisors won’t let us talk about the statue at their meeting this morning, so we’re outside. #takeitdownoxford #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/fNPglP37FJ
— Lafayette Co. Dems (@LafayetteCoDems) June 15, 2020
The city of Lafayette, under the settlement, will remove and transport the statue to another location in the state. The city will pay the United Daughters $20,000 to design and create a base for the statue, along with $5,000 to insure it.
As of today, the United Daughters have 41 days left to provide the city in writing with a new location for the statues and permission from the property owner where the city should deposit it.
If the group does not provide this information, Lafayette will remove and dispose of the statue as it sees fit.
I've been hoping for this moment since I moved to Lafayette and learned about the confederate statue. It's either going to a private location or the city can dispose of it. Either way it won't be on a pedestal in downtown anymore
Congrats Move the Mindset!!! https://t.co/dc78pBex4R
— Dr. Kassandra Ford (@kassthefish) July 17, 2021
Jerome Moroux, an attorney who represented the city and as well as the 16 residents who wanted the statue gone, told The Advocate: “the Confederacy has surrendered.”
The removal is another in a long line of removals that have occurred across the country and world since the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2021.
Many of these statues were erected decades after the Civil War, during the Jim Crow era, when states began imposing new segregation laws, as well as during the “Lost Cause” movement, where historians and others falsely painted the South’s rebellion as a battle over state’s rights, not slavery.
Mouton, whose full name was Jean-Jacques-Alfred-Alexandre Mouton, was a slave owner, and the son of a former Louisiana governor. He died leading a cavalry charge in the Battle of Mansfield.
Many of the 16 residents that wanted to see the statue removed are members of Move the Mindset, a grassroots organization committed to promoting racial and social justice in Lafayette.
“It’s been 99 years right now, and that’s way too long for that to have remained in place,” Fred Prejean, president of Move the Mindset, told The Advertiser.
Mouton’s statue was originally paid for and donated to the city by the United Daughters in 1922. Many in the city objected to having a statue honoring a Confederate soldier standing on city-owned property and maintained with city tax dollars.
Over 50 years later, city officials wanted to move the statue to the new City Hall on University Avenue, but the United Daughters’ Mouton chapter filed for an injunction to stop this move. A Judge issued a permanent injunction and the group agreed that it would not be moved, with the exception of road work or the sale of the property.
The calls to remove the statue arose again in 2016, amid a national movement to remove Confederate memorials. However, the United Daughters threatened to file a lawsuit, and the City-Parish Council backed down.
This led to the establishment of Move the Mindset and other groups to raise awareness about the statue’s Jim Crow-era history, the treatment of Black people during that time, as well as the racial implications of having a Confederate statue located at an entrance to Lafayette’s downtown area.
Mayor-President Josh Guillory asked the city’s legal team to investigate options for removing the Mouton statue, and on July 21, 2020, they approved a resolution to support the effort.
"They chose to surrender rather than reveal who they are."
That's what Lafayette attorney Jerome Moroux said Friday of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which opposed the removal of the Gen. Alfred Mouton statue from public property. https://t.co/eQkGidMn3t
— Acadiana Advocate (@theadvocateaca) July 16, 2021
The city then became involved in the effort, and together with Move the Mindset, it was decided that the United Daughters had no standing to stop removal of the statue, as the group donated it under no explicit conditions.
Prejean also told The Advertiser that Gen. Mouton led a vigilante committee that served as “judge, jury and executioner” to Black folks.
"He was a war criminal. When Black soldiers were captured, they disappeared,” Prejean said.
He also told The Advocate that he is overjoyed with the recent decision to finally move the statue.
Cory Levier dances where the statue of Confederate General Alfred Mouton stood. In Lafayette, Louisiana today. pic.twitter.com/HGhrKVPza2
— Travis (@gauthiertravis2) July 18, 2021
“It’s unbelievable that in a conservative red city like Lafayette they would recognize that the statue doesn’t belong in our city,” he said.