The General Alfred Mouton Statue was erected in 1922 and stood in front of the old Lafayette City Hall. It was commissioned and donated to the city by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), an organization labeled as a neo-Confederate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Through the placement of hundreds of public monuments (like the Mouton Statue), the circulation of revisionist history books, and other forms of influence, the UDC orchestrated a nation-wide campaign to promote the false “lost cause” narrative that glorified the Confederacy and depicted slavery and plantation life in idyllic terms. Most of this revisionist work was conducted in the aftermath of the Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) U.S. Supreme Court case, which legalized segregation in the Jim Crow South. The Alfred Mouton Statue therefore stood as a celebration of Jim Crow-era white supremacy, racial segregation, voter suppression, neo-slavery, and racial terrorism.
The person of Alfred Mouton depicted in the statue was the scion of an elite ruling family who owned the largest slave plantations in the region. Before serving in the war, Alfred ran a slave plantation inherited from his father Alexander Mouton, the former governor of Louisiana and the man who presided over the state’s secession from the Union in 1861. In the 1850s, Alfred led an armed vigilante group in the service of white elites that extra-legally flogged, banished, lynched, and murdered members of every major ethnic group in the area. According to Carl Brasseaux, a prominent local historian, the vigilante group targeted “persons most responsible for crimes against property” and “poor whites and free blacks who threatened the social status quo by harboring fugitive slaves, by conducting indiscreet sexual liaisons, or by challenging contemporary concepts of white superiority” (Acadian to Cajun: Transformation of a People, p.118). After the Civil War, members of Alfred’s vigilante group went on to form white terrorist organizations, such as the Knights of the White Camelia.
Move the Mindset was formed in 2016, in the aftermath of a controversial Lafayette City-Parish Council meeting attended by hundreds of citizens in which an organization called Why Alfred (which later folded into Move the Mindset) brought a resolution to remove the statue from public property and relocate it to a museum or more appropriate venue. The Council was unable to vote on the resolution due to the discovery of a permanent injunction issued by the City in 1980 in response to a suit brought by the UDC. The injunction prevents the moving of the statue with rare exception.
From 2016-2021, Move the Mindset waged a multi-faceted campaign of public education, community organizing, direct action, and legal action to remove the injunction and move the statue. Through our organizing efforts, we have gained the support of the City-Parish President and the City Council. On July 17, 2021, this goal was accomplished and the statue was removed in front of a large crowd celebrating it’s removal.
Move the Mindset is committed to moving toward an inclusive and unified Lafayette community. Please make a donation to support our cause.
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