Tuesday, September 19, 2017

SIGIS Raising Money for the Confederate Monument


The ladies of the United Daughters of the Confederacy have responded to John Settle's lawsuit filed to determine ownership of the land under the Caddo Parish Confederate monument.

Via The Shreveport Times:
The Shreveport chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy has thrown down its first marker challenging any move by Caddo Parish government to remove the Confederate monument from courthouse grounds. The UDC chapter declared in a court filing that it owns both the monument and the land the monument stands on at the Caddo Courthouse and, as a result, that the parish cannot legally move the 101-year-old edifice.
Settle filed a lawsuit in Caddo District court last month although his standing to file suit is unclear as he clearly is not a Daughter nor a Commissioner.  Settle named both the UDC and the Caddo Commission as defendants in his suit.

The Caddo Commission has asked the judge to dismiss the suit.

Whether the judge dismisses the suit or not, the issue of ownership has been ongoing for years and perhaps now is the time to put that to rest.

Through the years I've had many friends of this blog reach out and chip in when I've asked for support for school supplies or other charitable causes.  I have been astounded at the generosity of my readers and although my readership has dwindled some as I took some time off to write my book, there are still plenty of you still here.  I'm very grateful that you have stuck around!

I am donating all PayPal donations through this blog through October to the United Daughters of the Confederacy local chapter for their legal defense fund.

As Confederate monuments across the South are being ripped from their pedestals, I think we can be different and we can show the nation that we can reconcile this issue peaceably and through compromise.  At the very least this monument is unique among the other monuments across the South; its design is unlike any other.  It is a beautiful work of art.

Some contend that moving the monument to a museum would ensure further appreciation for it but what we would lose is the historicity of the monument: it's historic value comes from the site upon which it sits.

I have made a donation to the UDC to their legal defense fund. It will cost money to fight to keep the monument where it is.  You can donate either through this blog (hit the PayPal button on the right sidebar) or you can mail a check to the UDC.  No amount is too small.

If you can't donate anything, please share with someone who can.

A million protests and a million signatures on a petition won't do what dollars can do.  This monument fight is different than any other across the South: the UDC was donated the land in 1903 and now must fight legally to retain it.  This will take money.

Hit the PayPal button on the sidebar.  We can save this monument.

The UDC ladies back in the day built this monument with donations from bake sales and other fundraisers - a dollar here, a nickle there, and we can save it the same way today.  Donate what you can.

UPDATE:
Thank you "Anonymous" for your $25.00!


Previous Posts on This Blog:
On Mysterious Flowers and Monuments (9/17/17)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

On Mysterious Flowers and Monuments


A friend of mine has a night -blooming cereus that she named Eudora, in honor of course of the famous Southern author Eudora Welty who had one in her own garden and was known for celebrating its buds with all night parties. When my friend's cereus produced buds last week, rather than throw an all night party she sent a group text with a photo. Her message was filled with as much glee as Miss Eudora must have felt at her own blooms.

Miss Eudora has been much on my mind in past weeks as I picked up a volume of her collected stories recently. I have not read any of them in quite some time - since college, perhaps.  One exception would be "A Worn Path" which I use when I teach a creative writing class; other than that, the treasures of "The Wide Net" and "Clytie" have been long forgotten.  I spent several weeks this summer sitting outside under the shade of my magnolia rediscovering Miss Welty's lovely southern prose and relishing the rich atmosphere she creates with her words.

There's nothing more rewarding to me than picking up a book and rediscovering an old, favorite author.  While I read widely, both fiction and non-fiction, my preferences tend to Southern writers. Give me a Rick Bragg memoir, Flannery O'Connor, or even Faulkner and I am consumed with the words.

In the course of writing my biography of Cammie Henry I discovered the short stories of Ada Jack Carver, a bright light in the 1920s but who never produced anything of note after that.  Carver's stories are rich in atmosphere and many have memorable characters such as old Baptiste in "Redbone" who initially seems to be celebrating the birth of a son by going into town to get drunk but there is more to the story...

What is it that makes Southern writers so unique?  Some critics contend that the Southern literary renaissance that began in the 1920s is still ongoing and I tend to agree with that.  When H. L. Mencken declared the south "The Land of the Bozart" and insisted that southern writers had produced nothing of substance, he fired up the pens and typewriters of every warm-blooded southerner who had a desire to prove him wrong.

The literature of the South is as unique and beautiful as its climate and its people.

How long before it is targeted for criticism and banning as the Confederate monuments are?  Is that too much of a stretch?  Look at it this way: critics of the Confederate monuments say that the South lost the war, that the war was treasonous, that the Confederacy held slaves (as if the Union did not), and that the monuments were erected in the Jim Crow period; apparently their point with that last one is that these monuments are intended as some sort of subliminal white supremacy symbol.

This is all fallacious reasoning it seems to me.  These monuments were commissioned to honor the family that fought to protect their homes and their way of life.  And no, "way of life" is not code for slavery.  The way they lived was agrarian, it was slow and peaceful, it was with a work ethic and independent spirit that did not want help from outsiders.  Of course there were bad people who did bad things, but that has been the case throughout history.  Never has an entire culture been targeted because of that as is the case now.

One of our most beloved Southern writers was Harper Lee whose To Kill a Mockingbird is nothing if not a message on equality, tolerance, and dignity.  In Scout Finch we see the innocence of a child who has never been taught to see color in a person and who has never learned hatred or prejudice.  Those things are learned from adults and Atticus Finch's lesson to his children was "put yourself in their skin and walk around in it."  What are we teaching our kids now?

How many of us are living that way now?  How much of our hatred is learned and passed along to others?  How much of this monument mess is just mob mentality?

And where does it end?  People ask that question often, but think about it.  For years overly sensitive lemmings have tried to ban books often citing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Animal Farm, and of course To Kill a Mockingbird among many, many others as offensive in one way or another.

How is that different than monuments?  These books are in public libraries just as monuments are in public places.  What's the difference?

To me, both books and the monuments are works of art and should not be subject to censorship.  I disagreed when the Ten Commandments were removed from courthouses and schools but at least I understood the reasoning behind it ("separation of church and state").  You could point me to a legal position that made that clear.

Perhaps I'm oversimplifying things because of course books don't equate to monuments in literal sense but censorship is censorship wherever it lies.

If our society does not stop with this over sensitive offended culture we are perpetuating there is literally no end to it.  Everything is a target.  If you are traumatized by a monument how could you possibly read Delta Wedding?  When will the book burning start?

Miss Welty abhorred the Civil War: she had one parent from the North and one from the South and she saw what the war did to Mississippi where she grew up (long after the war, of course).  "Ravaged" was the word she used. But she also knew that there are two sides to everything; her parents taught her that.

As we consider the modern debate of monuments, we need to remember that there are two sides to everything and that the men we see carved in these granite and bronze monuments were men - they were not without flaw and they were not perfect but they were human, just like we are, and we can learn from them still and we can admire their dedication to home and family.

The night-blooming cereus blooms only one night of the year. Their blooms are fragile and temporary and draw people to it in admiration and awe, but then it is gone until next year. Welty called them “a naked, luminous, complicated flower,” and maybe that's what our monuments are. Perhaps we all just need to spend more time looking at the beauty of a thing.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Caddo Monument Rally Bringing Outside Agitators to Shreveport

I am watching with unease all of the protests around Confederate monuments, most recently in Dallas and now in Richmond.  I am uneasy about the upcoming rally in Shreveport, not because our monument is in danger (it isn't), but because of outside agitators coming to our city.

Our monument situation is different than monuments in many of these other cities. Most of those are not on private land as ours is.  Shreveport's situation is unique.

That being said, there are still groups planning to agitate and protest in our city comprised primarily of people who don't live here:

A group invoking what it describes as southern cultural heritage and Christian values plans to stage rallies to protest the possible removal of the Confederate monument at the Caddo Parish Courthouse. 
The organizer, who says he represents the Gulf Coast Patriot Network, has used Facebook to get word out about the events planned for Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in language that accuses groups such as Black Lives Matter of engaging in terrorism. The announcement has been widely discussed in social media.  
 The rallies were announced a few days before the Caddo Parish Commission’s Long Range Planning and Special Projects committee voted in favor of removing the Caddo monument. But the committee's vote Tuesday did prompt Rex Dukes to expand his outreach nationally, he said in an interview. Dukes said he founded the Gulf Coast Patriot Network.

While I commend and share their loyalty to heritage and history, I don't condone the outside agitation that comes with these protests.

This is the description of the event from the organizers:

This is a call out to all southern States to all citizen's of the Confederate States of America to come to Shreveport La to stand United as one and to all U.S. citizens that love history and wants it to be preserved and cherished to stand with us to protect our monuments and our southern heritage. This event is to bring about and unite all southern states to protect our history our monuments and our Battle flag and our way of life.we can no longer stand idly by as we are attacked buy the radical groups of ANTIFA, BLM, Cair, MBH, B100 groups that have merged together as one large terrorist group. It is time we show just how United we our as southerners and to show that we will no longer allow the destruction of are country. And to show that the SOUTH HAS RISEN once again to show that we will fight to keep our history and heritage in place.to preserve it for are kids and grand kids and for all the world to see. This event must go down in the history as the largest gathering of southerners to ever happen. GOD Bless Dixie and GOD Bless CSA.

I watched the violence in New Orleans and other cities through many live news feeds.  We don't want that here.

Both the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy have declined to attend these protests as organizations.  It's possible that some members will attend as interested citizens, however.

I now understand better why people in New Orleans didn't want outsiders protesting at their monuments.  In reality, what happens is that this increases the likelihood that the monuments will be removed or vandalized because of the negative attention.

And then there's the Antifa crowd that shows up once these protests are announced. They come with hate and they come with violence.  We do not need that in Shreveport.

I am all for peaceable protest and for the right to protest.  It's the outsiders and the ANTIFA crowd I am against.

Our monument has stood with dignity and peace since 1906.  It has been well preserved and maintained and stands on private ground, enclosed by a fence.  Clio, the muse of history, is pointing to the word Love in her book.  Let's let that continue to be the case.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Caddo Parish Confederate Monument is Not Being Moved

Former Shreveport attorney John Settle has filed suit in Caddo District Court against the Caddo Parish Commission and the United Daughters of the Confederacy to determine ownership of the land under which the Caddo Parish Confederate Monument has been standing since 1905:
John E. Settle Jr.'s lawsuit asks a Caddo District Court judge to settle a question that has been asked, at least informally, for decades: Who owns the monument land — parish government or the United Daughters of the Confederacy? 
Settle, a former lawyer, filed the lawsuit Monday. In legal terms, the lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment. Named as defendants are the Caddo Parish Commission and Shreveport Chapter 237 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
It is unclear to me what standing Settle has to file this suit, but that's for the court to decide.

My feelings about the nation's monument debate have always been clear.  And while I am a descendant of a Confederate soldier, and while I have lived in the South all of my life, I am sickened as much by the destruction of the art as I am the attempt to hide history.  From a logical standpoint, I can't understand the sudden rush to offense when these monuments have stood for over a hundred years.

But, let's go back to the art for a moment, especially with regard to our Caddo Parish monument. The work on that monument is stunning.  We are privileged to have such a beautiful and unique monument.  I'm going to share a few passages with you from the National Register application for the monument:

Describing Clio:
"...facing inward is a life-size white marble depiction of Clio, the muse of History. She has a classically styled robe draped over her right shoulder that falls gracefully to the ground. Her shoulder-length hair is knotted in the back and captures two sprigs of laurel wreaths bracketing her beautiful idealized face. She peers intently at the pages of a marble book of remembrance about 3' tall on which is written the words “Erected by the
United Daughters of the Confederacy. 1905, Love’s Tribute to Our Gallant Dead. Shreveport Chapter 237”. Her left hand points at the word “Love” on the book.
The key words there are "Tribute to Our Gallant Dead."  How can that be an offense to anyone? The craftsmanship on the monument is stunning and is so evident on the classical detailing of Clio.

In the discussion of the four busts on the monument I believe these remarks about Governor Henry Allen are important:
[On the busts,] "...two important features of sculptor Frank Teich’s work are illustrated: accuracy of uniform depictions and youthful age of soldiers portrayed. The busts of the four generals were realized as three- dimensional representations from consulting Carte-de-visit photographs collected from the war period. The medium is the difficult-to-carve Texas granite. The Caddo Parish Monument likeness of Henry Watkins Allen, Louisiana's Governor and decorated Confederate General, closely resembles his photograph and is the only granite bust and one of only three sculptures of him in Louisiana.
Only one of three?  Shouldn't we treasure that rather than destroy it?  Shouldn't that be something to celebrate rather than deride?

The Caddo Parish Confederate monument is unique when compared to others in that it holds six figures: General Robert E. Lee, General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Louisiana’s Confederate General P.G. T. Beauregard, Louisiana’s Confederate General and Governor Henry Watkins Allen, as well as Clio and the lone soldier atop the 30 foot pedestal.

The beauty of the monument is evident as well as the historic site on which it sits.

With the monuments controversy ignited by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu raging across the country, the Caddo Parish Commission turned the issue of our own monument over to their Long Range Planning Committee who in turn formed a sub-committee made up of local historians, scholars, and citizens.  The sub-committee held numerous town-hall meetings across the city, many of which were heated and went on long after the scheduled end time.

Citizens showed up to these meetings to voice their opinions on the monument; the sub-committee recorded all of the input either through the meetings or through email and written opinions and then the sub-committee presented a final finding to the Long Range Planning Committee.

The recommendation by a 5-3 vote was to keep the monument in place and to erect new signage as well as two flanking monuments: one to Civil Rights and one to the Reconstruction era.  The Long Range Planning Committee was to take it to the full Commission for a vote.

So what happened?

In what some saw as an ambush, an ex-officio member of the committee was brought in to vote in the Long Range Planning Committee meeting on September 5, which turned the vote in favor of removal.  No discussion about flanking monuments or new signage, just removal.

This decision was a slap in the face to the months long process of the sub-committee who had already made their recommendation and voted on presenting it to the full Commission as well as to the citizens who attended meetings and voiced opinions, working within the given system.

Which brings us to Settle's lawsuit.

Mr. Settle contends that if the United Daughters of the Confederacy owns the land under the monument, which is commonly believed, then the Commission has no right to vote on removal at all.

Via KTBS:
There are legal questions about whether the parish has the authority to remove the monument, which has the likeness of a Confederate soldier and the busts of four generals. The United Daughters of the Confederacy erected the monument -- but ownership of the land on which it sits in murky. The official parish position is that they own the land -- that the courthouse has been there since the early part of the 1900s and ownership has passed to the parish through what amounts to frontier rights.  
 An opposing position is that the courthouse square belongs to the descendants of Larkin Edwards, a friend of the Caddo Indians who sold much of the land that was the original Shreveport. There is no record that proves Edwards ever sold the land that is now the courthouse square. Early maps show it was to be a Public Square.

The UDC was given use of the land "in perpetuity" in 1903 by the Caddo Parish Police Jury. In 1903 a man's word was his bond and the donation was recorded in the minutes of the Policy Jury along with a large cash donation for the monument.

Now both the Caddo Commission and the United Daughters of the Confederacy are compelled to respond to Settle's suit.  The UDC is a non-profit organization who does not have cash stored away to fight legal battles. They raise money for scholarships, museum contributions, and local charities but as a non-profit they don't keep large cash piles on hand.

When the monument was defaced and damaged last year, the Shreveport Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy asked for donations to restore the monument and benefactors stepped up.  The monument has never been more beautiful than it is today.  Once again, the UDC is asking for help, now, to fight this legal challenge. We can be the city that stands in favor of keeping our public art works in the public square.

If you wish to contribute to the legal fund to help the UDC respond to this lawsuit, you can send a check to them:



Please note on your check that it is for the legal defense fund.

The Caddo Parish Confederate monument is one of our unique artistic treasures and it sits on an historic site.  As a community we should embrace the compromise initially offered by the sub-committee which was arrived at through due process.  The monument should stay right where it is.

We can be the city that sets the example that monuments can be both beautiful and educational at the same time and need not be destroyed or removed.



Sunday, September 3, 2017

Arena Madness


Longtime readers might notice a sort of involuntary facelift on the blog; apparently Blogger wants me to pay a small fortune to host third-party pictures like my ivory crumpled paper background.  I'm now using a generic Blogger format and saving a small fortune.

That has, for some reason, soured me on the blog for a little bit.  It's almost as if it's not "mine" anymore, but I guess it never was since Blogger is hosting it for free, so there you go.

At any rate, there has been a lot of grumbling in Shreveport these past few weeks about Mayor Ollie Tyler's arena project and I am breaking my blog silence to preserve some of that argument here.

My personal feelings about Shreveport at its potential have always been out front.  For years I've felt that this city is grossly under performing and failing to maximize its resources.  I posted this article in 2015 after a trip to Des Moines which seemed decades ahead of Shreveport.  It still is, for the record.  There has been some progress in downtown Shreveport since that post, and I applaud that, but we still have no jobs and no growing population to fill all those new condos downtown.

A lack of jobs and an glaring, growing crime problem are critical issues in this city.

Mayor Ollie Tyler's odd arena proposal is, on the surface, her attempt to grow the economy but the project is fraught with issues.  Elliott Stonecipher has been on top of this from Day One and his posts can be read at Real Shreveport. I am linking to his most recent post and from there you can link through to a host of expose pieces about the problems with this project.

Lex Talamo with The Shreveport Times has documented Shreveport's long neglected, crumbling infrastructure in her article of September 2:

  • The city's sole water treatment facility is sometimes stretched to capacity and operates, at peak, below its original capacity by 12 million gallons of water per day. 
  • Cross Lake, which supplies water to the water treatment facility, needs an estimated  $200 million in upgrades, including to fight invasive species such as Giant Salvinia.  Cross Lake Dam, which stores water for the facility, needs up to $18 million for repairs.
  • The city has met its deadlines so far in completing work under a federal order requiring $500 million in fixes to city sewers. But now the work gets more difficult and expensive. A source of funding has not been identified.
  • All told, the infrastructure maintenance, repair and upgrade bill facing city government is around $1.5 billion — the result of paltry appropriations for decades.
Erin McCarty also has a revealing article in which she wonders what happened to the $5 million bond issue that voters approved for a park at Cross Bayou in 1996?

What you really should be angry about is what has been happening over the past 20 years? We have no park at Cross Bayou. We voted for that in 1996. Who has failed to deliver and why? This one vote should make us all very hesitant to believe government promises.

On the flip side, in The Forum, Louis Avallone chides us to quit the "stinking thinking" and quit badmouthing ourselves:

I don’t know if this Pelicans “G League” is a good idea or not, but this stinking thinking has to stop. All that stinking thinking does is make you feel defeated, discouraged and depressed. Haven’t you ever heard that you are what you think about?

And finally, Steve Becker penned this piece on social media which has been shared many times over:

Shreveport is slowly becoming the Detroit of Northwest Louisiana because of the lame brain idiots (Democrats) who gets voted into office, mainly the mayor-ship. "Shrevetroit" is broke, the infrastructure like streets and sewers are crumbling, any business with any sense won't come here because of the high local and state taxes on businesses, there is no viable workforce because anyone who has an education leaves and never comes back... 
For some dumbass reason the mayor and several people in city government wants to build a $100 million sports arena to "entice" an NBA developmental team... If you don't know anything about the history of sports teams in "Shrevetroit" the best way to describe it is "dismal at best," with the exception of a minor league baseball and hockey time from time to time, but as for minor league basketball... They came and went as fast as a son-cone left on a "Shrevetroit" sidewalk on an August afternoon. Maybe the sno-cone lasted longer. 
What makes matters worse, the city doesn't even own the property where they want to put the proposed arena... More money spent that the city really doesn't have.  
This morning I had the radio on KEEL and they had on Mayor Ollie and she was blathering about the arena. She was saying that it's true the city doesn't have the money to fix the infrastructure, but with the arena and and entertainment district the city can "generate revenue to rebuild infrastructure and do other things." My head began to hurt like I had just gotten a brain freeze from eating a sno-cone as fast as I could before it melted. (As for an entertainment district, the Red River Entertainment District on the riverfront was a complete disaster because the city refused to control criminal elements for fear of offending someone, and people stopped going. Now the Red River Entertainment District under the Texas Street Bridge make a great spot for winos. You can smell their contributions when you walk past the few businesses that decided to stay and the many vacant buildings where business didn't.)
Then upon being asked the question about, "What do you say to those who point out the failure of other sports teams in Shreveport?" The answer went something like this, "I will tell them that many successful people failed in their ventures before finding success."
Ollie, Ollie, Ollie, first of all the money that those "successful people" failed with was their own. You, dear lady are a steward of public funds, not a gambler of public funds. If you can't see that you have no business being in the position you are in. Hell, I have a better idea, why don't you and your little toady Brian Crawford go to the El Dorado or Sam's Town Casino and put received city tax revenues on the old craps table and take a chance because there isn't any difference according to your philosophy of public fund expenditures.
Meanwhile, the city's crime rate is rising faster than a clogged commode that has been flushed numerous time, the city's first responders haven't had a pay raise in over ten years...
Don't get me wrong, I would love to see an entertainment district, but I do know if it were a viable, profitable venture private investors would have done it a long time ago. So, in the mean time old Ollie, Brian, and the rest of city gang want to get on their knees and shoot dice using public funds.

He makes a valid point about our first responders; Michael Carter, president of the Shreveport Police Officers Association, issued this statement last week:

"The Shreveport Police Officers Association opposes a “G” League Basketball Arena expenditure in Shreveport, Louisiana. 
 "The SPOA has diligently pursued a pay raise proposal for 11 years. The pay proposal was vetoed under former Mayor Cedric Glover in 2008, voted down by City Council Members in 2012, and deliberately ignored since February of 2015 by The Honorable Mayor Ollie Tyler. "Many excuses have been provided, however, the “lack of funds” has been a consistent plea from City Administration. Now, a new venture requiring more than $30,000,000.00 of tax payer’s money, with interest, is being aggressively pursued.  
 "In an astonishing vote of 5-2, the Shreveport City Council proved, in our opinion, that public safety is not their priority. With shootings almost daily, we watch our City leaders ponder dreams of a “G” league Arena. There is no potential of a 30,000,000.00 return.  
 "$30,000.000.00 could drastically change the Shreveport Police Department into a progressive law enforcement agency. With daily infrastructure needs and public safety needs, the City of Shreveport has found what it is willing to invest in, and it is not the safety of the average citizen.  
 "SPOA adamantly holds Mayor Ollie Tyler, CAO Brian Crawford, and City Attorney Will Bradford, Jr. accountable for ignoring the safety needs of Shreveport, Louisiana. They have left no room for doubt. They are focused on issues that do not make Shreveport a better place to work and live. Now, the City Council, except for two, are looking to join the excitement that can only be enjoyed if you literally ignore the death and violence in the districts they represent.  
 "Please join the Shreveport Police Officers Association and oppose the basketball Arena."
If nothing else, the City's treatment of the Shreveport Captain's ballpark is enough for me; they've allowed the stadium to become uninhabitable.  There is no reason in the world why a city this size should not have a minor league baseball team.

In a city that can't even properly run an animal shelter, why should we trust this project?

All said, it's a very contentious issue in Shreveport right now made worse by the fact that it seems like it's being pushed down our throats without any time for proper examination of the project and without voter approval.

I'm all for Shreveport turning around and becoming a city equal to its potential but there are many more major issues on our plate right now.  Crime is out of control, police morale is low and our officers are underpaid and often underappreciated. Infrastructure is crumbling.  Jobs are nonexistent and our young people are leaving in droves.  At the very least, the arena project needs much more vetting before going forward.

The mayor's detailed plan can be seen here.

Follow Elliot Stonecipher's posts here.

Locate your City Council member here.