‘Why not place it in River Ranch,’ Lafayette residents frustrated after Parish Council moves forward with plans for jail in their neighborhood

Louisiana

LAFAYETTE PARISH, La. (KLFY) — Residents are outraged after the Lafayette Parish Council voted to pass an ordinance Tuesday evening that will make moving the downtown jail to Willow Street one step closer. 

For a week, residents in the surrounding area have been protesting this happening, but they say ultimately their protests had no impact on the parish council’s decision.

The Lafayette Parish council says they need a new jail because the downtown jail is outdated and needs too many renovations. They want to build the new jail right next to the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Public Safety Building.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, parish council members voted to acquire the land to build it on, despite hearing residents’ concerns they don’t want it in their neighborhood.

Over a dozen residents spoke up at the council meeting and made it loud and clear that they don’t want a new jail being built there. They say they’re worried about their neighborhood safety and the number of schools in the area.

“So again, my vote is no,” one resident told the council. 

Despite the opposition, the parish council voted unanimously to acquire the land to build the jail on Willow Street.

“The way they pushed this ordinance onto the residents and to the people of the community, I feel it was wrong. It should have been brought to the community earlier. I don’t think it would have been pushed down our throats the way it was done,” Jarry Granger, who lives near Willow Street, said. 

“I’m sorely disappointed. I’m not surprised at what I saw. Though what has been done is legal, is it ethical what was done?” Angela Catalon, who owns property in the area, added. 

Residents and even members of the NAACP say they feel as if the parish council is just dumping the jail on the northside of Lafayette.

“Why not place it in River Ranch, right? I know people would say, ‘Oh, we don’t want a jail in River Ranch.’ So why do we have to accept and sit here and place a jail in our community? We don’t want a jail here. People in River Ranch don’t want a jail. People on the southside don’t want a jail in their community. So why do we have to settle and get the short end of the stick? We don’t want it,” NAACP Political Action Committee Chair Person Nureaka Ross told New Ten. 

Though the parish council voted to acquire the land tonight, they say that doesn’t necessarily mean they will definitely build the jail here. 

Residents say they’ll keep fighting to make sure it’s not.

Local NAACP President Marja Broussard issued the following statement in response to Tuesday’s decision:

When white privilege prevail in Lafayette, La.

Unfortunately this is the history of Lafayette, La.

These white local elected officials colluded to bring this major decision through a cajun music artist, Councilman Kevin Naquin.

Kevin decided Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Parkway (Willow Street) is the best site for a maximum security prison. Not a state or national site selection firm. He decided. the mayor was silent. the sheriff silent, One Acadiana silent.

This was done without previously informing the black council members (city or parish) who represent the majority populated black Northside.

Do you really think this councilman acted unilaterally, of course not! They all colluded to continue to suppress the Northside, to attack the black community.

Progressive communities are not even building jails anymore.

It was never the plan to put this kind of facility on the Northside. The transitional facility was a progressive idea. Its being redefined to old policies of lock them up, and throw away the key.

Remove the mouton statue from downtown- then put up a new monument for the ages to a Lafayette and Louisiana racist criminal justice system designed to crush the black family, the black man. black children will see this proposed jail daily. A constant reminder of despair. attacking our mental health.

We are not defeated. We will continue to fight for what is right for all citizens.

We ask that you tell the community what you plan to build on the property where the jail is now.

WE KNOW YOU KNOW!

2021

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