Protesters gather Saturday to plead for justice

A protester holds a sign as speakers talk before the mile-long march to raise awareness of the death of Victor White III. (Photo: Seth Dickerson, The Advertiser)

About 300 protesters marched the streets of downtown New Iberia on Saturday, demanding why the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office has yet to provide a satisfactory explanation of the death of Victor White III.

Led by organizer Corey Levier’s chants, marchers joined in the March to End Police Brutality to call for Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal’s resignation as well as for answers of the circumstances surrounding the death of 23-year-old Victor White III.

“Nineteen months and I still don’t know what happened to my son,” said the Rev. Victor White Sr. during the rally at Boulighy Plaza in downtown New Iberia. “Nineteen months and it’s still difficult to speak about my son’s death. Without knowing what happened to him, I can’t begin to grieve.”

Organizers originally planned to have the march end at the Iberia Parish Courthouse, but due to early voting laws, Broussard said, they were required to stay 800 feet from the building.

Protesters march the streets of New Iberia Saturday to demand answers in the case of Victor White, as well as call an end to police brutality.

Although White’s death is an issue, Milton said ousting Ackal is only the start.

“It’s a much deeper issue than this,” he said. “It’s systemic. If the policies remain in place — even if Ackal is gone — all our energy will be for naught.”

According to The Daily Iberian, Ackal said in a candidate forum this week that the community in New Iberia is not “up in arms” over White III’s death.

New Iberia resident Caryn Winters disagreed.

“We are definitely up in arms over this,” she said. “We want justice; we want answers.”

White died in police custody in 2014 from what police say was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest with his hands cuffed behind his back. Deputies say that two searches of White III’s body produced small amounts of marijuana and cocaine, but no gun.

The initial press release from the Louisiana State Police March 3, 2014, said White shot himself in the back, but according to the full final report of the Iberia Parish coroner, White was shot in the front, not the back.

The narrative that IPSO brought forth has led many to nickname the incident the “Houdini handcuff suicide” given the bizarre ruling by the coroner’s office.

“He was shot on the right side of his chest with his hands behind his back, and you want to convince me he shot himself?” White Sr. said during the rally. “There’s no way my son shot himself.”

The rally was the culmination of a week of events held by the Justice for Victor White Committee.

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