The monument, and the injustice perpetrated under its shadow, are powerfully described in a recent article by Cecelia Trenticosta:
A bust of a Confederate general is mounted at each corner. Stonewall Jackson stares to the north. Pierre Beauregard looks east. Henry Watkins Allen stands guard to the west. And Robert E. Lee watches south. Atop the monument stands a proud confederate soldier, holding a rifle. He is unnamed, presumably to represent everyman. Or, rather, every white man...A recent appeal filed in Dorsey's case asks if justice can be administered fairly under the watchful eye of a symbol of white supremacy. The brief states that "Prominently displayed in front of the Caddo Parish courthouse, the Confederate flag represents for many people, and particularly for African-Americans, public entrenchment of racism in the parish’s judicial system and an endorsement of historical efforts to deny African-Americans equality under the law. The flag, as a public symbol of racial bias, poses an intolerable risk that capital punishment cannot be fairly administered within the courthouse walls."
The flag itself is the Third National Flag of the Confederacy—the “blood-stained banner.” This flag was developed during the last throes of the Confederacy as a way to incorporate the battle flag (the St. Andrew’s Cross) with a red stripe running down the edge to symbolize the Confederates’ willingness to die for their cause. Shreveport—the last capital of the Confederate States—raises this flag in defiance of the fact that the war is over, and its cause lost.
This flag and monument, however, are not a part of a museum, or a freestanding monument apart from government property. Flanked by ancient live oaks, it stands as the only structure on the courthouse lawn at the Caddo Parish Courthouse. Every person summoned for jury duty, as well as every judge, clerk, employee, attorney, guard, police officer, and defendant must pass beneath the flag and monument.
Under this Confederate Flag, Caddo Parish administers Louisiana’s death penalty, its harsh felon-disenfranchisement laws, and its vast web of prosecutorial discretion under this flag.
Carl Staples, an African American native of Chicago who moved to Shreveport in the 1970s following the race riots and had been registered to vote in Shreveport for 30 years, was summoned for jury duty at the Caddo Parish Courthouse on May 14, 2009, in the capital case of Felton Dejuan Dorsey, a poor black man accused of killing a white firefighter in a majority-white area of Caddo Parish. Knowing that the courthouse flies a Confederate flag, he called the clerk’s office to state his objection to serving under the flag. The clerk told him that if he did not show up for jury duty, a warrant would be put out for his arrest. So he swallowed his pride and walked beneath the Confederate flag and past the monument to the Confederacy for jury selection. When called for individual examination, Staples stated:
[the flag] is a symbol of one of the most . . . heinous crimes ever committed to another member of the human race, and I just don’t see how you could say that, I mean, you’re here for justice, and then again you overlook this great injustice by continuing to fly this flag which . . put[s] salt in the wounds of . . . people of color. I don’t buy it.
The prosecutor promptly moved the court to strike Staples, arguing that he could not be fair. The judge granted the motion. The prosecutor then proceeded to strike five out of the remaining seven qualified black prospective jurors. The defense objected to the strikes as racially discriminatory in violation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Batson v. Kentucky. The trial judge rejected the challenge. Dorsey, a black man accused of killing a white victim, was convicted and sentenced to death by a jury of eleven whites and one black.
It's clear that Dorsey's conviction was a case of Confederate justice. Will the Louisiana Supreme Court recognize this?