- Associated Press - Sunday, February 28, 2016

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Lafayette’s city leaders are examining a proposal to add a statue of a slave next to a state of a Confederate general in downtown Lafayette, and to leave the statue just as it is.

At issue is a monument to Confederate Gen. Alfred Mouton, which has become the subject of a heated public debate.

Similar debates over Confederate symbols are taking place all over the nation since the slayings of nine black worshippers last June at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/2142OZL ) that adding a statue of a slave next to Mouton is one idea among many being looked at.

City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux said adding a statue of a slave would put the Mouton statue in a better context. He said a sign explaining how the general’s family owned scores of slaves at the outbreak of the Civil War might also help.

“If we are going to base this on history, then let’s finish the story,” Boudreaux said.

Still, the city’s council members - including Boudreaux - have not made any specific proposals.

A recent legal opinion from the city-parish attorney said that council members could face contempt of court sanctions if they vote to remove the monument.

The local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which donated the statue to the city in the 1920s, filed a lawsuit in 1980 to stop plans to move it from downtown to what was then the new city hall.

To resolve that dispute, the city consented to a permanent injunction, agreeing to keep the general in place, barring sale of the property or street improvements.

City-Parish Attorney Paul Escott told council members the injunction is a binding legal agreement and they could face contempt of court sanctions for violating it. Escott also said the council could vote to challenge the 36-year-old injunction in court.

Barring a court fight, the council would have the option of leaving the statue in place and installing additional statues or new signs to put the Mouton statue in historical context, as has been suggested by some on both sides of the removal argument.

But the main group fighting removal, which calls itself “WHY NOT Alfred?” opposes new interpretive signs at the monument. In a statement posted on Facebook this week, the group cites concerns about “political correctness verbiage.”

“WHY NOT Alfred? will fight that battle even harder than we fought to preserve the statue in place. Interpretive signage is absolutely unacceptable to us,” the statement reads.

The “WHY NOT” label is an answer to the group pushing for removal of the statue, who have organized loosely into a group calling itself “Why Alfred?”

Mouton’s family plays a prominent role in the history of Lafayette. Alfred Mouton’s grandfather, Jean Mouton, is considered the founder of Lafayette. His father, Alexandre Mouton, was a key figure in the city’s history and held several political posts, including governor of Louisiana.

Alexandre Mouton also owned a sprawling plantation on land now filled in by downtown Lafayette and the surrounding neighborhoods.

At the time of the Civil War, he owned 120 slaves, more than anyone else in the parish except his brother Antoine, according to a recent history of the nearby Freetown neighborhood.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com


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