The South’s Defenders statue in Downtown Lake Charles, Louisiana was erected in 1915 to recognize local residents and those throughout the south who fought for the Confederacy.
But the death of George Floyd inspired many to reconsider Confederate monuments. In recent months, at least 59 of them have been removed and there were renewed calls to get rid of this one, too.
“The statues do not educate the nation; they glorify defenders of slavery,” a Change.org petition said. “These monuments do not teach about the horrors of the American Civil War, nor do they remind of us why the battles were fought. They simply cast a halo around those who died in a war that primarily sought to cement a place for slavery in our nation’s future, and they do so under the guise of honoring the dead.”
The activists who put up the petition said the monument brings no pride to Lake Charles, no financial support, it draws no tourism, and serves only to overlook the atrocities committed in the name of the Confederacy throughout history. “The monument stands for a history of oppression for a community that makes up about half of Lake Charles’ population, and it disgusts the allies who stand with them. Lake Charles is not represented by a bygone era of violence and slavery.”
But while some demanded that authorities remove and destroy the South’s Defenders Memorial Monument, others were content with it.
A special city council meeting was called in July to determine the statue’s fate. Before the meeting, parish administrator Bryan Beam said he’d received 945 written responses from the community, and 878 were against its removal while just 67 were in favor.
The council sided with the majority, voting 10 to 4 to keep the statue up.
Image credits: davantelewis
On Thursday morning, however, it appears as if a higher power intervened and made the final decision on the statue. Hurricane Laura touched down at 1 am and brought 150-mile-per hour gusts of wind – some of the strongest the region has ever experienced.
The hurricane knocked down the monument at the soldier’s ankles.
The South’s defender now lies on the ground, broken and motionless, much like so many Americans during the bloody war it represented.
Image credits: davantelewis
Here’s what people have been saying about the whole situation
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Reacting to the news, Twitter user Mac MacKenzie said they were the monument’s no longer standing. “While history — the good AND the bad — is important, I believe that statues that honor people who fought to retain slavery are offensive public adornments and should be taken down,” Mac MacKenzie told Bored Panda. “Especially since the vast majority of these statues were erected decades after the war as a response to civil rights movements; they weren’t honoring the war they lost and the people who fought in it, they were honoring white supremacy.”
Image credits: MacMacKenzie32
Most people on the council are white and Mac MacKenzie thinks they’re conservatives, too. “I’m not saying they’re racist (though I suspect some of them are) but many of the people who voted for them probably are and there would’ve been an uproar if they voted to take it down.”
“I kind of hope that, considering that they’re conservatives, at least a few of the council may think that this was God’s will or maybe even some kind of punishment for glorifying a racist army in a racist war and they’ll just leave it alone,” the added. “I fear they may come up with a conspiracy theory that some ‘lib’ actually toppled it in the middle of a category 4 hurricane.”
Mac MacKenzie had a very interesting idea for the future of the statue. “Personally, I’d like to see it be melted down to make statues honoring civil rights leaders,” they said. “Or, at the very least, trashed and forgotten. But I doubt that will happen.”
The statue has come down several times before, including in 1918 when a storm damaged it just three years after it was erected. However, it has always been restored. In 1995 it was blown off and repaired, despite protests from some locals, including a district judge, who turned their backs as the soldier was returned to the pedestal. So far, it’s still unclear what fate has planned for it this time.
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