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Decades ago, in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, parish leaders hoisted a Confederate Flag on the courthouse as a message to the Black community: Your fight for civil rights is not welcome here. Despite the fall of Jim Crow in the South, despite the fact that it’s now 2011 — 60 years after the flag was originally raised — that flag remained atop the courthouse. Last Friday, that flag’s time above Caddo Parish’s hall of justice came to an end when it was finally removed.
Six months ago the American Civil Liberties Union argued to the Louisiana Supreme Court that the Confederate Flag’s presence above the Caddo Parish courthouse prevented the death penalty from being administered fairly. The ACLU attorneys claimed that the flag directed white jurors to view Black defendants as being less-than-equal. On Thursday night, heeding the ACLU’s warning, Caddo Parish commissioners voted overwhelmingly (11 to 1) to take down the flag.
"The presence of the Confederate flag outside the courthouse has for too long been a reminder of lynching, terror and the oppression of the African-American race," said ACLU Capital Punishment Project director Denny LeBoeuf in a statement. "Flying the flag outside the courthouse only risks diminishing the trust of African-Americans in the criminal justice system and priming white jurors to view African-American defendants and victims as second-class citizens. Removing the flag brings us one step closer to justice."
A study from Florida State earlier this year confirmed that the Confederate Flag triggers in whites an anti-Black mindset. With this in mind, it’s a wonder more localities where the Confederate Flag flies freely aren’t attempting to eliminate the banner from public buildings. In South Carolina, for instance, the “Stars and Bars” still fly above the Statehouse, despite much protestation from the state’s Blacks. Hopefully South Carolina is the ACLU’s next target.
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