ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman sent an open letter to Caddo Parish Commissioners today, urging them to take steps to remove the Confederate monument at the Caddo Parish Courthouse.

“Contrary to popular cliché, removing a monument designed to commemorate those who fought to preserve slavery does not risk forgetting or repeating that ugly part of our history,” wrote Esman. “The proper question is not whether we risk repeating history, but rather how we can learn—as a community, a state, and a society—to face that history in its totality. Slavery spawned unfathomable suffering.  Forcing those whose families were victims to live alongside a monument to those who induced their suffering is not the road to reconciliation.

Esman continued: “It is self-evident that a courthouse must stand for impartiality and equal justice.  Everyone must feel equal walking through courthouse doors.  Many have spoken of the message of inequality they perceive at the Caddo Parish Courthouse because of the presence of the Confederate monument.  That alone should be reason enough to remove it.  If those whom the court serves don’t believe they are seen as equal inside its walls, the court must change its message.  And for all those who have testified to their personal sense of shame, humiliation, and repression, I am not aware of anyone who has said that their access to the court is enhanced by the presence of that monument.  In other words, many are diminished by it, but no one has said they benefit from it.  What public purpose is served by retaining something that hurts many and helps none?”