On Oct. 19, a 7-5 majority of the Caddo Commission voted for the Parish Administrator to take appropriate action to have the Confederate Monument removed from the Caddo Parish courthouse grounds.
The Commission acknowledged that the Shreveport Chapter 237 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) owned the monument. The parish and the UDC disagreed on the ownership of the land under the memorial.
The resolution did not set a deadline for removal. Nor did it authorize the expenditure of parish funds for the removal or storage if the UDC failed to do the same.
After the Commission’s vote, a lawsuit was filed electronically by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the United States Western District.
The UDC suit requested an injunction against the parish for removal of the monument. It also requested that the court rule the UDC to be the private property owners of the land under the monument.
A hearing on the injunction will be held on Dec. 11. Judge Robert James of Monroe will hear the case in Shreveport.
The UDC is represented by Dave Knadler of Mansfield. Parish attorneys Donna Frazier and Henry Bernstein represent the parish.
The UDC’s pleadings assert that an injunction is needed until the ultimate resolution of the land ownership is judicially resolved. To be successful, the UDC must be able to show the likelihood of irreparable harm if the monument is removed before the final court decision.
There is a possibility of damage to the 100-year-old (plus) monument if it is moved.
And if damaged, the cost of repair is also unknown.
The parish has an estimate of $278,650 to remove and store the monument. The estimate to reassemble the monument, if stored, is $298,400.
The parish may have difficulty in proving any real harm for the monument to remain at the courthouse during litigation.
At the trial on the merits, the UDC will no doubt introduce the minutes of a Caddo Police Jury (the predecessor to the Parish Commission) that authorized the donation to the UDC of the land that is now under the monument. However, the Police Jury never executed a deed to comply with the resolution.
The trial on the merits of the case will not be set until after the Dec. 11 hearing.
It is anticipated that the case will not be heard before June of next year.
It can be expected that the losing party will appeal to the Fifth Court of Appeals in Jackson, Miss. After that, relief can be requested from the United States Supreme Court. Unlike the right of an automatic appeal to the Fifth Circuit, the Supreme Court decides which cases to hear.
Bottom line, no quick action can be expected on the removal of the monument. Perhaps the only good news is that no tax dollars will be spent by the parish on this suit.
John E. Settle Jr. has been a resident of Shreveport since January 1977. His articles appear regularly in local publications. He can be reached at 742-5513 or e-mail to: John@jesettle.com.