LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter is being applauded after calling for removal of the South’s Defenders statue at the old Calcasieu Courthouse.
At the same time, he's being criticized on social media for his stand.
Hunter took to Facebook to publicly announce he supports removing the confederate statue from the grounds of the old Calcasieu courthouse.
“In the year 2020, a courthouse lawn is not the place for this monument,” Hunter said. “The statue should not be destroyed or erased. It should be relocated with thoughtfulness and modern context, and while I do not have the answer for where it should be relocated to, I am willing to be a part of a constructive conversation about this and how to move forward together.”
Hunter declined to do interviews out of respect for the Calcasieu Police Jury which has authority to remove it.
Read Mayor Nic Hunter’s full statement below:
Hunter is receiving accolades from many including his former McNeese history professor Dr. Janet Allured, who has advocated for removal of the statue for many years. Note, she does not speak on behalf of the University.
"Thankfully the mayor decided to use his bully pulpit and take a morally proper position on this monument which I hope is going to go a long way toward moving other politicians, the ones who do have the authority to do this, in the right direction," she said.
Allured says elected officials need to know that it will not kill them politically.
"History values and venerates and reveres people who come down on the side of anti-racism and anti-oppression, whatever form it might take. even when maybe it's not the politically popular thing to do," she said.
In recent days, there have been at least three petitions concerning the monument-- one to keep it up and two to remove it. Cary Chavis of Lake Charles started one, hoping to get the issue on the police jury agenda.
"When we think about this Confederate monument, it literally symbolizes white supremacy and enslaved African Americans. So, we have this monument out in front of our courthouse which is to be a place where people can see justice and fairness and we have a monument that represents slavery in front of it, and that's not something we should ever support," said Chavis.
We reached out to the organizer who started a petition to leave the statue where it is, but he declined to comment.
As well, many on social media want the statue left alone saying it represents history and heritage.
Whereas, local historian Mike Jones defends the monument. He says it represents soldiers from the south who have died.
“I am the great, great grandson of a confederate soldier who defended Calcasieu parish in the Battle of Calcasieu Pass on May the 8, 1864 who died in the war. I strongly disagree with mayor Nic Hunter, and I want to urge every monument defender to contact their police juror, right away, and tell them right away you do not want them to move that honorable memorial one inch. These soldiers were defending their homes and families and deserve to be forever remembered with honor and respect,” said Jones.
No word yet on whether the Calcasieu Police Jury will put the issue on one of their upcoming agendas.