The Lafayette Parish Council is moving forward with acquiring property for the future location of a new parish jail.
Council members unanimously approved the final ordinance at their meeting Tuesday night; it clears the way for a new jail next to the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office facility on West Willow Street.
Several parish residents spoke against the move during the public comment portion of the meeting. One man said there are lots of properties where the new jail could go instead of the West Willow location, adding, "Respect the Northside just like everybody else's district is respected."
Another stated that the current jail needs to be updated, "but we cut the budget for parks and recreation."
Their statements were echoes of those shared during town halls held last week. Many residents felt it would do more harm than good to relocate the jail, and some were worried more people would be jailed if the facility were moved to the Northside.
Council member Josh Carlson, who represents District 3, said that he understands the concerns and they are valid, but added that the facility "isn't in anyone's front yard" or located next to a school or church, though he said there are some in the area.
District 2 council member Kevin Naquin, who proposed the ordinance, said that the location is simply a "future site," and that this doesn't mean the jail will absolutely be built in that spot. He also said the facility might not be built for many years. The location, he added, will save tax payers more money because of its location in the city versus one that would be built a further distance away, which would cost more.
"This location wasn't based on color, poverty, Northside versus Southside, east versus west, or downtown," Naquin stated.
Watch the full council meeting here.
Following the vote, the Lafayette NAACP released a statement:
"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!"
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