Question over ownership of Confederate statue delays vote for removal

Published: May. 30, 2017 at 7:32 PM CDT
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Alexandria City Council voted to table the issue of removing the Confederate Statue in front of the Rapides Parish Courthouse during Tuesday’s meeting. The motion to table the issue passed by a vote of 4-3, Councilmen Ed Larvadain, Jules Green and Joe Fuller voted against it.

City Council President, Roosevelt Johnson, said the motion to table the issue was made to find out who actually owns the statue. During the meeting, Alexandria City Attorney, Chuck Johnson, said, “there is no evidence” that the city owns the statue. Johnson said the statue is either owned by the Rapides Parish Police Jury or the United Daughters of the Confederacy Thomas Overton Moore Chapter. However, Councilman Green believed the statue was donated to the city back in 1914. Councilman Johnson said tabling the issue will give them time to work with the Rapides Parish Police Jury to find out who actually owns the statue.

Originally, the statue was placed in front of the old Alexandria City Hall in 1914 by the Thomas Overton Moore Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. In 1962, it was moved to the Rapides Parish Courthouse where it still stands today. There is still controversy over who actually owns the statue: the city, the parish, or the Daughters of the Confederacy.

City Council also took public testimony on the issue which was cordial throughout. Linda Thomas, who opposed removing the statue said it should stay because, “it’s art and history.” While Attorney Malcolm Larvadain, a longtime proponent of moving the statue, said,” I feel it's time for this statue to come down because it doesn't represent who we are anymore."

Brad Webb, a local pastor, pleaded to the council to set an example of leadership.

"Alexandria needs to be a shining star," said Webb.

After New Orleans' controversial removal of Confederate statues, Councilman Harry Silver also said the city has an opportunity to set an example.

"Its time for us to show the state how it should be done," said Silver.

Councilman Green, who put the resolution on the agenda, said they don’t want to destroy the statue but move it to another location.

“It’s a beautiful statue but it’s in the wrong place,” said Green.

The statue memorializes fallen soldiers of the Confederacy, but Councilman Larvadain said the statue being in front of the courthouse is not appropriate.

“I don’t see Confederate soldiers as heroes,” said Larvadain. “When you go to the courthouse you should see lady liberty.”

Councilmen Green and Joe Fuller wanted to pass the resolution to, “get things started on removing it.” But city council went ahead with tabling the issue.