Leaders of a march down La. Hwy. 1 calling for the removal of the Henry Watkins Allen statue across from the West Baton Rouge Courthouse also announced plans to begin a petition for the recall of Sheriff Mike Cazes on Sunday, June 28.
More than three dozen people gathered at the corner of LA Hwy. 1 and Court Street for a march to the Henry Watkins Allen statue across from the West Baton Rouge Courthouse. Allen is the namesake of the City of Port Allen who served as the Confederate Governor of Louisiana from 1864-65.
March leader Shelton Berry called for the statue to be relocated to the West Baton Rouge Museum in a vote at the July 9 Parish Council meeting, promising further marches and protests if the council does not pass a majority vote for its relocation. Berry called the statue "traumatizing" in his Change.org petition, citing Allen's ownership of slaves and escape to Mexico as an outlaw, where he died.
A counter-petition by Amy LeBlanc calls to keep the statue in its current place.
Henry Watkins Allen was also an American soldier and politician, earning the rank of brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.
"We are not asking you to take Henry down, we are telling you to take Henry down," he said from behind the statue, which police guarded and roped off with caution tape before protesters arrived.
Port Allen Mayor Richard Lee addressed the crowd and promised to support the relocation of the statue. He will bring a resolution in support of relocating the statue before the City Council at the July meeting, he said.
March leaders chose to begin at the intersection of LA 1 and Court Street in memory of a lynching said to have occurred near that same spot, Clerice Lacy said. Lacy said the march was to call for an investigation into the District Attorney's Office, justice for those killed at the hands of police brutality and funding of a Community Oversight Board (COB). Lacy is the director of the Justice for Fatrell Organization, which has pushed the City Council and Port Allen Police Department to create and fund a COB for more than a year. Last month, Port Allen Police Chief Esdron Brown announced the creation of a Community Advisory Board in response.
Sheriff Cazes was not available for comment at publication time.