The Last Place in America to Lower the Confederate Flag

Posted By Levi

November 9th, 2011 8:45pm

From the Rachael Maddow show:

MADDOW:
Its about Caddo Parish, the corner of northwest Louisiana where
Shreveport is. Shreveport was the last Confederate capital of Louisiana.
And the Caddo Parish was the last place in America to lower the Confederate
flag over land when the South lost the Civil War in 1865.

Less than 40 years after the South surrendered, in 1902, Caddo Parish
gave land to the daughters of the confederacy to erect this monument. The  guys on the corner are Confederate general. On top, there is an anonymous Confederate soldier holding a rifle. It`s also got the mousse of history
and the words lest we forget on the monument.

In 1951, to make it clear if it wasn`t already, Caddo added a big Confederate flag. The flag was not part of the original monument at the turn of the century. They added it 50 years later. That monument is at the foot of the Caddo Parish courthouse. So, when  prosecutors, witnesses, potential jurors enter the courthouse they have to walk by the Confederate generals and Confederate soldier with his gun and they have to walk under that Confederate flag.

Two and a half years ago, a Shreveport resident named Carl Staples was called jury duty at the courthouse but he told the clerk he did not feel he could carry out his civic responsibility to do jury duty because he did not want to serve under a Confederate flag to do so. The parish clerk told Mr. Staples he had to do jury duty. He was put in a jury pool to hear the case of an African-American man accused of killing a white man.

At the jury selection, Mr. Staples again objected to the Confederate flag out in front of the court house, calling it a, quote, “symbol of one of the most heinous crimes ever committed to another member of the human race.” He told the court, quote, “You are here for justice and you overlook this injustice by continuing to fly this flag.” The prosecutor asked to strike Carl Staples from the jury because of his objection to the Confederate flag, arguing that he couldn`t be impartial in the case.

The judge agreed and let him be struck. And Mr. Staples did not participate in the justice system on that day. The prosecution struck five more African-American jurors that day and the jury chosen for the case for that case, 11 white people and one African-American person found the defendant guilty. He was sentenced to die.

We reported on this back in May when the ACLU raised the issue of the flag in an appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Louisiana had the highest race of incarceration in the United States and they are particularly adept at locking up African-Americans in particular.

Louisiana has a population that is 32 percent black, but Louisiana has a prison population that is 70 percent black. I said there is good news here, unexpected good news. Yesterday, the Caddo Parish commission like the county commission but it`s Louisiana, so it`s a parish instead of a county, the Caddo Parish commission held a hearing on that Confederate flag flying in front of the courthouse. The vast majority of the local residents who showed up to speak on the issue said they had come to say they wanted the flag taken down.

One of the people who turned out to speak was Carl Staples. He made a brief statement without ever identifying himself as the man who got kicked off the jury for objecting to the flag. One local pastor also spoke arguing that the building was not just any old place in town.  And at least in Caddo Parish, it is apparently a prerequisite on serving on a jury there that you do not object serving on the jury under a Confederate flag.

After hearing from concerned citizens, the Caddo commission voted to remove the Confederate flag from in front of the Caddo courthouse. So, now, when you enter the Caddo courthouse, the parish`s most visible symbol of justice and equality under the law, you have to still walk by the Confederate monument with the generals and the soldier with the
rifle, and the lest we forget sign but the only flags you walk under are the Louisiana state flag and this one.

 

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