KSLA News 12
May 03, 2011
Local NAACP protests Confederate flag outside Caddo CourthouseSHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -By Tracy Clemons
A revitalized effort to get the confederate flag removed from in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse is taking form. More than a dozen community leaders were on the lawn Tuesday to detail their latest effort.
"When this flag flies, there is no justice. There is no equality," says one supporter.
The group says it's hard to enforce equal justice with a Confederate flag outside the courthouse.
"This is where justice is made available to everybody. Yet we see in the 21st century, in the year 2011 there are still reminders of a vicious, ugly, degrading, racist, and incomprehensible past," says Professor Charles Ogletree.
He's the director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School.
"That's not equal protection. That is offensive, derogatory, and demeaning to a whole generation of people," he says.
He refers to Carl Staples, who was in the pool of potential jurors in the 2009 murder trial of Felton Dorsey. Dorsey is a black man sentenced to death for killing a white firefighter.
"I'd known the flag was there all the while, and it really hit home when I had to partake in the justice system," Staples says.
Staples says he was dismissed when he voiced concern about the flag.
"I couldn't be a hypocrite to myself and partake in the justice system that doesn't believe in itself."
Chuck McMichael, with the Sons of Confederate Veterans says people who believe the flag represents racism are wrong.
"Some people have incorrectly used it that way. The Sons of Confederate Veterans and Daughters of the Confederacy have denounced them over and over for doing it. If it was legal for us to do so, we would stop them from using our flag."
He says the monument and flag represent veterans.
"This is remembering men who answered the call of their state to protect their state from a hostile army."
The American Civil Liberties Union doesn't see it that way. It filed a brief with the Louisiana Supreme Court on behalf of Felton Dorsey. The case goes before the Court in Baton Rouge Monday.
"We will be arguing, along with Mr. Dorsey's attorneys on May 9 in the Louisiana Supreme Court that the flag presents an intolerable risk that African Americans may be intimidated to serve on juries, may be excluded from juries like Mr. Staples for having strong feelings about the flag," says ACLU Staff Attorney Anna Arceneaux.
From everything that was said at the news conference, our conversation with Chuck McMichael, and even the more than 100 Facebook comments we got about this story, one can surmise that a big issue at hand is tolerance.
McMichael says we need to have "maybe a little bit more tolerance of what other people wish to commemorate."