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Court date has not been set to determine ownership of Rapides Confederate monument

Matter is still pending in 9th Judicial District Court
Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 4:38 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - An effort to remove the Confederate monument located in front of the Rapides Parish Courthouse has stalled after the matter has yet to see any movement in the 9th Judicial District Court.

The case was assigned to Judge Monique Rauls last August, but a court date has not been set yet.

In July, the Alexandria City Council passed an ordinance to remove the monument, however, the determination over who actually owns the statue has yet to be figured out. The City of Alexandria is pushing to remove the statue from the spot it is currently placed.

Back in June, former City Attorney David Williams filed a petition to have the Rapides Parish 9th Judicial District Court declare the City the sole owner of the statue, which according to newspaper records, was donated back in 1914 and placed at the courthouse in 1962. The petition was served to both the Rapides Parish Police Jury and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the group that raised the money and presented the statute more than 100 years ago.

In a court filing, attorney Alan Pesnell of Marksville, who represents the UDC Thomas Overton Moore Chapter and its president Carolyn Ann Cleveland in the legal matter, writes that the “City was never deeded or donated an unconditional title to the statue,” and instead, “the statue at issue was conditionally dedicated to the people of Rapides Parish and the City, on the requirement of public display and view in the locality of Alexandria.”

The UDC claims it did not dedicate the statue to be displayed at a state or other historical site, “rather it was given to be displayed in the local public venue.” The group also states that it sought the permission of the Rapides Parish Police Jury, who was also served with the City’s petition, to relocate the statue to the courthouse property from its previous location outside the old City Hall.

The UDC also maintains that the Police Jury has refused to care for and maintain the statue. Pesnell continues by writing the “UDC has never abandoned nor delegated its ownership interest in the statue nor its obligations as owner to care for, maintain, and/or repair the statue.” Pesnell later argues that the City and the Police Jury are not the owners “and have never been” the owners of the statue.

District 5 councilman Chuck Fowler said once ownership is determined, the council will continue to push to have the statue removed from its current spot.

“I think there is a very small chance of us being named the owner of it. I would hate to see it destroyed and if there was a way through an intergovernmental agreement or through some type of participation at the request of the Police Jury to remove it, we might find some way to help them. When I say remove it, I mean move it to another spot,” said Fowler.

Williams was recently sworn in as a judge in the 9th Judicial District Court, so new City Attorney Shane Williams will handle the case once a court date is set.

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