Black Louisiana lawmakers condemn Confederate statue bill

The Louisiana State House has passed a bill that could protect military monuments from being removed or altered including statues that honor Confederate soldiers and leaders like PGT Beauregard

The Louisiana State House has passed a bill that could protect military monuments from being removed or altered including statues that honor Confederate soldiers and leaders like PGT Beauregard

The bill passed the House largely along party lines: 65-31.

The bill, if signed into law, would forbid the removal, renaming or adjustment of any military monument in the state, including Confederate monuments, unless a majority of voters in a city or parish approve them.

Defenders of the Confederate monuments have argued that removing them is "historical denial", but when the effects of slavery are still felt a century and a half later, it'd be hard to argue that the anyone is in danger of forgetting the atrocities committed by this country against black Americans except for the very people decrying the memorials' removal. Legislators questioned the state's interest in stepping into the actions of local government. The amendments were dismissed.

The House backed the changes in a 97-0 vote Wednesday, sending Berthelot's bill to the Senate.

The head of the black caucus Rep. Joseph Bouie said the bill was a covert instrument of white supremacy.

It's fair to say that this debate has awakened a grisly history, one that the state's Republican lawmakers seem intent on trying to protect and celebrate. It should be believed. Black caucus members walked out of the House chamber in protest. "But it's not honored or in history books today".

Reps. Joe Bouie, D-New Orleans; Paula Davis, R-Baton Rouge; Jimmy Harris, D-New Orleans; Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe; Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge; Ted James, D-Baton Rouge; Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales; Julie Stokes, R-Kenner; and Major Thibaut, D-New Roads. "It's the worst thing I've seen done in this building". State Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin, said "we're here to refight the civil war that ended 150 years ago" while the state still is fighting to balance its budget.

Now the measure goes to the state Senate for consideration, but Carmody told reporters even if it passes and is ultimately signed into law, it likely won't stop the ongoing removal of the four Confederate monuments in New Orleans, the Advocate reported. New Orleans-area Republicans Ray Garafolo, Stephanie Hilferty and Christopher Leopold voted in support. In a statement following the vote, the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus said the House voted to "usurp local government authority and decision making power".

Rebel flag-wielding pro-monument supporters and "Southern nationalists" from the League of the South clashed with anti-monument protesters on May 7 during dueling New Orleans demonstrations celebrating and denouncing the removal of Lee's statue from Lee Circle.

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