LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -It’s unprecedented in Southwest Louisiana for a state district judge to publicly take a stand against the Confederate monument on the grounds of the Calcasieu Courthouse, but it has happened.
Judge Ron Ware says it's time for what he considers a symbol of injustice to come down.
The South’s Defenders Memorial Monument was put on the lawn of the Calcasieu Courthouse in 1915, to honor the Confederate war dead of Southwest Louisiana.
But today, for some, it is a symbol of injustice and hatred.
Ware protested it 25 years ago, when it was rededicated after repairs due to storm damage. Ware says he and others stood with their backs to the re-dedication, as the ceremony was underway.
Ware says it's time for it to be removed.
“The time has come for it to go. The Courthouse is a beacon of light and hope in good times and bad. It should be as welcoming and inviting and reassuring as it can be for everybody. We look to the Courthouse as a place of refuge from injustice and intolerance. A place of reason and fairness,” he said.
Ware says, of all places, the statue of a Confederate soldier does not belong on the grounds of a courthouse, where people go to receive justice.
“I get an uneasy feeling, uncomfortable feeling, sinking feeling every time I pass by that statue. The same questions come in my mind every time I pass by, such as, 'Why is that statue still sitting on the front lawn of the Courthouse.’ I wonder how many people still feel that way. I am offended by that statue,” he said.
Another man calling for removal of the statue is Lake Charles attorney Todd Clemons who calls it a symbol of oppression and a celebration of racism.
"The world has changed, not just in the last few days, in the last few weeks. So, I’m willing to do whatever it takes and I’m just pleading with any right-thinking folk to join me in getting it done. And I think those right-thinking folks realize that monument has no place on the courthouse grounds and it's time for it to go," he said.
“Imagine you’re a black man and you’re going to trial and you have to pass by a Confederate monument every time you go into the courtroom, do you feel like you’ve got equal protection under the law? I would submit that you don’t,” said Clemons.
This past weekend, Clemons took out a full-page newspaper ad which he calls a “Justice and Human Rights Blueprint for Calcasieu Parish.” It was published in the American Press.
Whether the Confederate monument is moved would be up to the Calcasieu Police Jury. Ware says he will mention it to Calcasieu Police Jury President Tony Guillory.
Neither Ware or Clemons express an opinion as to where the monument should be located.
We were not able to get an interview with any of those who defend the local monument. But there is a web site explaining the history and responding to objections raised over the years.