Why is that an issue?
Because the NAACP doesn't like the monument; they don't think it should be on public land, especially in front of the courthouse. The NAACP marched in protest against the monument in May of this year, just one week before the Louisiana Supreme Court was set to hear the appeal of Felton Dorsey. The NAACP has filed an amicus brief in support of Dorsey.
Felton Dorsey was convicted and sentenced to death for the brutal murder of retired Fire Captain Joe Prock in 2006. Prock walked in on a burglary in his mother's home; his mother was bound with her face covered as Dorsey beat her son to death with a pistol. Dorsey set the house on fire before he left.
Now the twist: Dorsey has appealed his conviction on numerous grounds, including the fact that the monument prevented him from getting a fair trial:
Mr. Dorsey claims he is innocent and seeks to overturn the conviction on numerous grounds, including that prosecutors used unreliable accomplice testimony. But race is a central part of the appeal. Mr. Dorsey contends that prosecutors improperly removed most of the prospective black jurors from the case, resulting in a jury of 11 whites and one African American.
He claims to have suffered additional discrimination due to the Confederate flag that has flown outside the Caddo Parish courthouse in Shreveport since 1951.
"The quintessential symbol of white supremacy looms over the courthouse," he said in his appellate brief.
One prospective juror was removed from the jury pool after expressing his feelings about the monument:
Carl Staples, a prospective black juror, was struck from the case by prosecutors after complaining about the flag.
The flag "is a symbol of one of the most…heinous crimes ever committed," Mr. Staples said, according to court briefs. "You're here for justice and then again you overlook this great injustice by continuing to fly this flag," he added, calling the flag "salt in the wounds of…people of color."
"When I was screened for the jury, it welled up inside of me and I expressed my feelings," Mr. Staples said in an interview. A part-time radio engineer and announcer in Shreveport, he said, "I don't understand how judges or lawyers allowed that flag to stand."
Does the fact that the monument is on public or private land change anything? It could, I suppose.
The comments attached to the KTBS article show that we haven't progressed very far with regard to race relations, and the NAACP seems to continually stir things up. One commenter asks if the Martin Luther King, Jr. statue will also be removed; it, too, sits on public property.
This is the description of the flag that flies on the monument which is the third national flag of the Confederacy:
The third national flag was adopted March 4, 1865, just before the fall of the Confederacy. The red vertical stripe was proposed by Major Arthur L. Rogers, who argued that the pure white field of the second national flag could be mistaken as a flag of truce. When hanging limp in no wind, the flag's Southern Cross canton could accidentally stay hidden, so the flag could mistakenly appear all white.
Rogers lobbied successfully to have this alteration introduced in the Confederate Senate. He defended his redesign as having "as little as possible of the Yankee blue", and described it as symbolizing the primary origins of the people of the South, with the cross of Britain and the red bar from the flag of France.
Defenders of the monument (and the flag) say it is history - leave it be. Opponents say the flag "represents slavery."
And now the monument could play a part in a death row case.
However you feel about it, the monument and the flag will likely continue to be a point of controversy as it has been for years.
(H/T: The Dead Pelican)