Lafayette Police, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office, the Lafayette Fire Department, and Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory held a press conference Saturday night after several protests were held throughout the city.
Sheriff Mark Garber, interim Police Chief Scott Morgan, Fire Chief Robert Benoit, and Guillory all encouraged peaceful protesting, emphasizing that many of the protesters in recent days have been from out of town.
"Lafayette is under control and Lafayette will be okay," Guillory began, addressing the citizens of the city and parish, "Our community will not tolerate civil unrest."
Sheriff Mark Garber said there are out-of-town groups in Lafayette Saturday who are displaying firearms. He said these groups have no history of violence and urged residents to not worry, reiterating that the town and parish are under control.
"If anyone is coming from out of town with intentions of burning, looting, we will stop you," said Sheriff Garber.
LPD Chief Scott Morgan began by thanking all police officers who have been working to protect citizens. His department has support from LPSO and Louisiana State Police, and said, "You can bring people from out of town, we can bring people from out of town, too."
One woman was arrested after a protest held at Mayor-President Guillory's home on Saturday and is facing charges of disturbing the peace and obstruction of a public passage. Another person is also facing obstruction charges. Morgan said three people were involved in the protest and started BBQing in front of the Mayor-President's home.
Morgan said, and Guillory agreed later, that the BBQ wasn't an appropriate way of protesting. Guillory added that it was a tragedy that his children and wife had to witness that. The situation, he felt, was escalating, and he said he is grateful for the quick response of Lafayette Police.
Lafayette Fire Chief Robert Benoit asked those who wish to protest to do so, but asked that before anyone does so to look in the mirror and ask why they are protesting.
Asked about the Acadiana Mall closing early on Saturday, Chief Morgan said the closure had nothing to do with nearby protests, but that management had heard "people may be in the area" and decided to close.
"These are out of towners, they're not our community," said Morgan. "Don't support them. Ignore them. Do not give them what they're asking for. That attention is what they want." He said no protesters have made any declaration of intent.
Morgan said inter-governmental agencies agreements are already in place should any outside law enforcement organization be brought in to Lafayette.
"The appropriate security" will be in place at Tuesday's Lafayette City-Parish council meetings.
Guillory ended the conference by explaining that a community relations group is working to hold walks, prayers, and other events in order to bring members of the area together.
He also said he has no plans to meet with protest leaders, saying, "I haven't seen any productivity" in him speaking with them.
"I will talk to members of faith, members who want to have a productive dialogue. When you're promoting crime and unrest it's unhealthy. I have nothing to say to someone who is promoting crime," he added.
"I know there may be some uncertainty. I hope that with this dialogue today hopefully you can have a little more peace of mind. Just like every other disaster we've gone through we are Lafayette strong. We will get through this, we will succeed."
The press conference comes after several small protests in the city on Saturday.
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