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Photo by FREDDIE HERPIN, Photographer

Contributing Writer

St. Landry Parish president Jessie Bellard is not in favor of using public funding to move a Confederate monument off the Courthouse Square, but he admits he might not be any other choice.

Bellard said on during a Friday interview with St, Landry Now that at this point he sees no other option than spending parish government money to remove the 102-year-old monument that the Parish Council has voted in a resolution to send elsewhere.

“I see no other way than to (use parish government funding) unless someone is willing to donate time and money. Unless there is someone who steps up and volunteers to pay to have it moved then I see no other way that we can do it,” Bellard said.

The Council voted March 16 to give Bellard 30 days to determine how to acquire funding that would move the monument to another location.

Members of the Council have not offered any alternatives to funding the removal of the monument. Some council members said they might like to sell it.

On Wednesday night an Administrative Committee voted to proceed with the removal of the monument. The entire Council convenes April 20 to make perhaps a final decision on the fate of the monument which was placed at the Courthouse in 1920 by the Louisiana Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Council members as well as individuals speaking at three separate meetings that began in March have debated the fate of the monument. 

Some of those who have spoken since March 2 at Council meetings say the monument was erected to honor local residents who fought for the Confederacy. Others have claimed the monument stands as a symbol of oppression for Blacks who were attempting to secure voting rights during the first part of the 20th century.

Former St. Landry District attorney Charles Cravins who told a parish wide Black History program Feb. 26 that the monument needs to be removed since it was constructed as a way of intimidating Blacks who at the time were being intimidated by members of the parish White Camelia and related Klan white supremacy groups.

Craving said during one of the meetings that he didn’t care who paid for the monument’s removal, but he added that it should not be parish government.

At Wednesday’s meeting local contractor James Bellard offered to remove the monument without expense to parish government. Bellard did not indicate where he intended to bring the monument if the Council allowed him to use his own finances.

Jessie Bellard, who is not related to James Bellard, said that on Friday Bellard offered to repurpose the monument and dedicate to Father Albert McKnight, former pastor at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Opelousas.