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Police remove protesters at Guillory's town hall

Posted at 7:20 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 20:20:44-04

Less than two seconds into Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory's town-hall, protesters interrupt and did not back down until police were asked to have them removed.

The protest came just hours before Lafayette Consolidated Government put out requests for proposals to run the four recreation centers set to close.

That RFP says the four rec centers would continue to serve as rec centers. Organizations interested in running them have until August 11 to turn in their proposals.

Today's protest was quickly organized by the NAACP and other activist groups. They're concerned about the closure of the four rec centers on the Northside and the layoff of 37 employees.

The protest lasted roughly 20 to 25 minutes inside of the Robicheaux Recreation Center.

Guillory and his Chief Communications Officer Jamie Angelle did try to quiet the crowd to continue the conversation, but the protesters made their voices louder.

The group chanted "Black Lives Matter! Save our rec centers and no justice no peace."

Frustrations were running high after the public was not allowed to comment during the special joint meeting of the City and Parish Councils after an introductory ordinance failed to move forward.

Northside resident and protester Tara Laxey said, "Do you see us now? Do you hear our pain now? Do you feel us?"

The Mayor-President sat quietly the majority of the protest.

He and his Chief Communications Officer tried to move the meeting forward saying they wanted a dialogue. At points, Interim Lafayette Police Chief Scott Morgan also walked up to talk with Guillory.

"We'd like to have a dialogue. If not, we'll ask you to leave. Chief, can you please enforce this," Guillory said.

Guillory called for officers to move in and remove the protesters. When asked to leave, they did so peacefully.

The protest continued outside for the duration of the town hall.

"What we're telling them is that we're not going to be quiet," said Devon Tre Norman. "What they thought was that black people will do what we sometimes do. We get excited for a moment and shut up. This is not a moment. This is a movement!"

Laxey said, "My feet are on fire! Josh Guillory, learn from today!"

Angelle said, "This was an opportunity for all the community to respectfully ask questions. That's why we gave 20 minutes for this group to get their concerns out, but at that point, we've heard them and a lot of other folks who had things they wanted to share and we needed to give them a chance as well."

Once Mayor-President Josh Guillory was able to move the meeting forward, he talked about the disparities between north and south Lafayette, public-private partnerships and volunteer opportunities in the community.

Guillory said, "When you do something new, it can alarm some folks, I'm the same way and a creature of habit. We honestly do not have an option. We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results."

The protesters we spoke with say this is not the end of making their voices heard. They plan to continue showing up at council meetings and other public events where the Mayor-President is.

The Guillory administration says there is a time, place and manor, but acknowledge "freedom of speech is a beautiful thing."

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