Just two weeks after a police jury in Louisiana voted to keep a Confederate statue amid calls to remove it, Hurricane Laura's strong winds took down the century-old monument.
The hurricane made landfall in the United States on Thursday morning, inflicting significant structural damage to areas around Louisiana. Despite Laura being downgraded to a tropical storm from a Category 4 hurricane, its 150-mph winds were enough to topple the South's Defenders Monument located in front of Calcasieu Parish Courthouse in downtown Lake Charles, according to CNN.
The statue had stood in front of the courthouse for 105 years, and recently became a point of contention amid calls to remove monuments to the Confederate States of America — a breakaway government that fought against the U.S. in the American Civil War — around the country today as many view them as symbols of racism.
"In the year 2020, a courthouse lawn is not the place for this monument," Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter wrote in a Facebook post on June 26. "The statue should not be destroyed or erased."
"It should be relocated with thoughtfulness and modern context, and while I do not have the answer for where it should be relocated to, I am willing to be a part of a constructive conversation about this and how to move forward together," he continued.
Pictures after Laura hit the area showed the statue on the ground, bent and broken. On Aug. 13, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury voted 10-4 to keep the statue in front of the courthouse, CBS News reported.
"Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish has been filled with controversy and tension after our parish government by a vote of 10-5 refused to take down the Confederate South’s Defenders Monument," Davante Lewis of the Louisiana Budget Project said of the monument being toppled. "Hurricane Laura had other plans and brought it down herself."
In June, a statue of English enslaver Edward Colston was thrown into a harbor in Bristol, England in a display of solidarity with Black Lives Matters activists in America. Colston was responsible for trafficking some 80,000 men, women and children from Africa to North America through the Royal African Company, the BBC reported.
A short time after the monument was removed, a statue of a Black Lives Matter protester was erected in its place, only to be removed after Mayor Marvin Rees said the citizens should choose what stood there.
Laura has caused extensive damage in the south since making landfall. The storm has claimed six lives in Louisiana so far, according to NBC News. One of the youngest victims, a 14-year-old girl, was killed when a tree fell on her home.
"It is clear that we did not sustain and suffer the absolute, catastrophic damage that we thought was likely based on the forecast we had last night," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday, NBC News reported. "But we have sustained a tremendous amount of damage. We have thousands and thousands of our fellow citizens whose lives are upside down."
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
• ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.
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