The Beauregard Parish Police Jury (BPPJ) voted, at their Tuesday meeting, on a resolution to look into acquiring a statue that was recently taken down in New Orleans. The New Orleans City Council declared, in 2015, that this statue, among three other Confederate monuments, was a public nuisance.

The Beauregard Parish Police Jury (BPPJ) voted, at their Tuesday meeting, on a resolution to look into acquiring a statue that was recently taken down in New Orleans. The New Orleans City Council declared, in 2015, that this statue, among three other Confederate monuments, was a public nuisance.

Rusty Williamson, president of BPPJ said Bryan McReynolds, BPPJ administrator, was contacted by a New Orleans city official, informing him that the statue of General PGT Beauregard had been removed from private property. He said it was sitting in a “junkyard,” and perhaps the parish would be interested in acquiring the monument, after pending litigation is settled.

The jury was polled about the request. A majority vote, of nine-to-one, was cast to proceed with a resolution of support, as a governing body, to see if the statue could be brought to Beauregard Parish.

This decision was met with immediate protest by the Beauregard Community Coalition group. The group marched on June 13, shortly after the police jury's vote.

Community Coalition president, and local pastor, Michael Harris, has been at the forefront of the public protest against bringing the monument to Beauregard Parish.

In an Facebook post, Harris stated that the opposition is not about ethnicity. "It is about standing up and refusing to go backwards." He said the acquisition of the statue supports, or endorses, hate and the division of "God’s people."

Harris calls on the community to come together to demand that the proclamation be destroyed.

"Our concern is that [PGT Beauregard] was a slave owner, which qualifies him to be an oppressor. We believe he has his place in history. He should be recognized for his part in Louisiana history. A museum would be the appropriate place, not in front of the courthouse. We believe that if you take the dark part of our past and keep it in front of us, before we know it, we will be walking toward it again," said Harris.

On the flip-side of the debate, Greg Menkins, Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office, Animal Control Officer, thinks the statue should come to DeRidder. "Racism is going to be around no matter what anyone does or says. The groups leading the racism need to be shut down and we should continue to discredit them."

Menkins thinks the monument is simply a historical representation. "This is a statue we're talking about. Not all history is good, but it does show we became a country. The U.S. is not perfect by any means, but I think for the most part we have learned from our mistakes, generally speaking," he said. "Some people in this parish are proud of their heritage, not as racists, but because it's part of their history."

Reminiscent of the controversy surrounding the statue's removal from New Orleans, some residents have turned against each other in online debates. There have even been threats of violence against those who are protesting the statue's placement in Beauregard Parish.

The maliciousness is not one sided, however. Williamson’s daughter contacted him in dismay over the negative comments online, aimed at him, for this decision.

The backlash from the community did not come as a surprise to Williamson. “Anything you do, you get criticism, especially with that subject. [Beauregard] was a confederate leader," he said.

When asked about the division within the community, regarding the statue, Williamson said, “I think we can work out a solution. We don’t need to enter a race war. We need to live in harmony and all it is, is a statue of this man, our namesake. It has nothing to do with race, or anything else, to me.”

He also spoke about who PGT Beauregard was. “He was a guy for equal rights, equal education for people of all races in public places. A good man, especially in his time when people weren’t inclined to think that way.”

The statue would be donated at no cost to taxpayers, clarified Williams. He has already received offers from citizens within the community willing to donate land, supplies, and support to facilitate the monument coming to Beauregard Parish.

Despite the controversy, Williamson said the jury intends to submit a proposal for the statue, and hopes that a compromise can be made within the community. "I am proud of the jury for having a backbone and the courage to vote to bring him here. They knew we were going to get criticism," he said.

Beauregard Daily News asked the New Orleans Mayor’s office for clarification as to the availability of the statue.

In a statement from the city’s communications director, Tyronne Walker, New Orleans has been in the process of determining the appropriate place for the statues, since their removal. "The city wants the monuments to be placed in their proper historical context from a dark period of American history.”

Both public and private institutions have offered to take individual monuments.

New Orleans has decided that a competitive request-for-proposal process will facilitate the open and transparent selection of where they ultimately go, and how they can be presented as educational tools with historical context.

The request-for-proposal is expected to be released in the near future for the other three monuments (Battle of Liberty Place, Jefferson Davis, and Robert E. Lee), which were removed from New Orleans.

Walker's statement said, due to legal issues surrounding the removal of the Beauregard monument, the statue will be considered separately.

As a governmental entity, the BPPJ can submit a proposal for the PGT Beauregard statue to be placed in DeRidder. The proposal must include how they will place the statue in context, in terms of why they were first erected, and why New Orleans decided to remove them.

Harris said he, too, had a phone conversation with the New Orleans Mayor's Office, on Friday. "[They] confirmed the [request-for-proposal] is being done to auction the statue. Interested parties must be 501(c)(3) [non-profit] or government organizations. The statue is not to be used as an intimidating item."