The fate of a Confederate statue in Louisiana has been decided by nature.
Protesters had asked officials to take down the statue, called The South’s Defenders Monument, but local officials voted 10-4 earlier this month to leave it where it stands outside the Calcasieu Parish Courthouse in Lake Charles.
Hurricane Laura apparently had other ideas. The Category 4 storm left carnage in its wake after making landfall early Thursday morning as one of the strongest storms ever to hit the state, with sustained winds of 150 mph.
When the worst had passed, the monument lay toppled on the grass, surrounded by debris.
The statue was dedicated in 1915 to recognize Confederate soldiers in the area and other Southern towns, the American Press in Lake Charles reported.
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter and other community members had called for its removal, noting its painful symbolism of slavery and oppression. Opponents argued it was historically important and honored relatives lost in the war.
Ultimately, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, the local government, voted for the statue to remain where it stood.
“Of the total responses, 878 were against relocating the monument and 67 were for relocating the monument,” Calcasieu Parish Administrator Bryan Beam told The Associated Press at the time.
Melinda Deslatte/ASSOCIATED PRESS
His son, Andrew Beam, told CNN on Thursday that his father found the toppled statue that morning when he stepped outside his office building after weathering the Hurricane’s eyewall there.
“It’s gotten a lot of controversy lately because the Police Jury here voted not to remove it for historical reasons,” Andrew Beam said.
Confederate monuments and symbols have been removed or toppled in other cities as protesters call for the country to reckon with its racist past in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and many other recent slayings of Black men and women.
“In the year 2020, a courthouse lawn is not the place for this monument,” Hunter, the mayor, wrote in a Facebook post calling for the statue to be relocated in June.
“The Civil War was one of this nation’s bloodiest conflicts, leaving death and destruction on so many fronts. For some, acknowledging those who fought and died is a very personal and altruistic matter. Likewise, for many citizens, the statue represents a painful chapter in our history, and its existence on a public square acts as a daily reminder about a bygone, unjust era and a lingering racism.