Comment possible Tuesday on Confederate general statue

(Photo: Claire Taylor/Daily Advertiser)

The movement to remove monuments to Confederate Civil War soldiers has reached Lafayette.

Supporters who want to keep a statue of Confederate Gen. Alfred Mouton on city property in downtown Lafayette expect to address the City-Parish Council Tuesday, according to the Facebook page Why NOT Alfred?

The subject is not on Tuesday’s council agenda, but the public is allowed to bring up any topic not on the agenda. The council may choose to discuss the topic as well, but cannot vote Tuesday.

The matter will be on the council’s Feb. 23 meeting agenda for discussion but no action, Council Co-Chairman Kenneth Boudreaux said today.

The monument depicting Mouton in his Confederate uniform was erected in 1922 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy Alfred Mouton chapter.

A group calling itself Y Alfred? wants the city to consider moving the statue, possibly to the Lafayette Museum property, once owned by Alfred Mouton’s father, or consider adding context, history and accuracy to the monument if it stays.

Co-founder Morgan Pierce said Y Alfred? takes issue with Mouton’s activity in a pre-war vigilante group that, according to some accounts, targeted blacks and other ethnic groups, forcing them from their homes, even beating and killing some.

Greg Davis, a Lafayette resident and civic leader, has strong feelings about the statue having a prominent presence in Lafayette.

In the 1960s, his family lived in Bogalusa, a town about 60 miles north of New Orleans that’s said to have had the highest per capita Ku Klux Klan membership in the nation.

“My dad was a very proud man and not very Jim Crow compliant,” he said “He always slept with a shotgun loaded next to his bed. Many times as a young person growing up I wondered if that night was going to be the night when they were going to come and take my dad.”

The Daughters of the Confederacy erected the statue and other Confederate monuments throughout the South during the Jim Crow era of racial oppression and discrimination, he said.

“To have that monument stand right there in the heart of our downtown area, to me, is an affront to humanity, to the American values that we all embrace,” Davis said.

It’s not even clear if the monument can legally be removed from the intersection of Jefferson Street and Lee Avenue. A 1980 legal judgment that stopped the city from moving it to the new city hall appears to permanently prohibit removal of the statue unless the city needs to do road work or sell the property.

Boudreaux has asked the city attorney to review the 1980 judgment and render an opinion on its legitimacy and the legal obligation of the 2016 council and city-parish administration to abide by that order.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy Alfred Mouton Chapter is apparently prepared legally, having hired an attorney to represent the group and speak to the news media about the statue. Their attorney did not return a call for comment last week.

The council meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 705 W. University Ave.

(Follow Claire Taylor on Twitter at @ClaireTaylorTDA and on Facebook.)

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