BATON ROUGE — Louisiana's Legislative Black Caucus said Tuesday the House's passage of a bill that would make it more difficult to remove Confederate monuments unmasked a "deep-rooted belief in white supremacy."
The 24-member Black Caucus walked out of the chamber Tuesday night after the passage of House Bill 71 by Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, that would prevent the removal of Confederate monuments without a local election.
"What the passage of House Bill 71 really revealed was that there is still present in Louisiana a deep-rooted believe in white supremacy and a desire to revere those who fought against the United States of America in the American Civil War," said caucus Chairman Joseph Bouie, D-New Orleans.
"The Legislative Black Caucus is offended and deeply wounded by the House's passage of this legislation," he said. "We were and are wounded because the bill attempts to rewrite history by honoring those who not only rebelled against the United States, but who fought to maintain man's greatest inhumanity to man; the system of slavery where our ancestors were considered property, less than human, women raped and abused ..."
Other members of the caucus said they were hurt by their colleagues' support of the bill.
"This bill will be remembered a lot longer than the monuments," said Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe.
Acadiana Rep. Terry Landry, D-New Iberia, said the bill widens gaps already apparent in the House.
"It's disappointing my colleagues couldn't search their souls on this issue and see how damaging it can be," he said.
Rep. Katrina Jackson, R-Monroe, said she was disappointed "many of my friends couldn't consider our feelings. Something erected in hate can never bring unity," she said.
New Orleans has been ground zero for the debate on whether to remove statues that honor Confederate history, which others see as monuments to white supremacy, but skirmishes have flared throughout the state.
Carmody filed his bill as his hometown debates the fate of a monument featuring a Confederate soldier and Confederate Gens. Henry Watkins Allen, P.G.T. Beauregard, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson at the Caddo Parish Courthouse.
In Lafayette, it's been more than a year since the Lafayette City-Parish Council passed on taking action to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Alfred Mouton from public property in downtown Lafayette. The Mouton statue is located in front of the Le Centre International building at the point where Jefferson Street and Lee Avenue meet.
In Alexandria, the Confederate veteran memorial in front of the Rapides Parish Courthouse in Alexandria came under fire by the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society in 2016, but no action has been taken there.
And in northeastern Louisiana, there are no plans to take down a monument in Tallulah featuring a young Confederate soldier standing above a Confederate flag.