As a kid, I remember going to Mike Woods Pool in the Shady Grove neighborhood of Bossier City to swim. I’d climb the huge diving board, stare down into the water, hold my breath, and jump in, sinking towards the bottom before rising back up to the top for air. What I didn’t realize then, and what took me years to realize was that the pool might as well be filled with blood. The blood from a past I knew nothing about. The blood from a past that had been paved over to make room for the parking lot at the pool, the tennis courts at the park, and the houses in the Shady Grove subdivision. The blood from a past that people hoped to scrub clean from the collective memory. They all but succeeded in scouring the blood away into nothingness, but it lingered, detectable underneath the supposedly cleansed earth.
Violent, racist attacks didn’t just occur in Bossier. They occurred across the Red River in Caddo Parish and all throughout the Red River Valley. Gilles Vandal notes that during Reconstruction 45% of the murders in Louisiana were concentrated in the northwestern part of the state. Caddo accounted for 16% of the homicides even though it only accounted for 3% of the state’s entire population. People may have tried to cleanse the soil of the blood, but the blood remains deep within the earth.
The lingering blood rests just beneath the surface, and it arises through the cracks in the concrete and asphalt. On Saturday June 28, protesters marched in Bossier and ended at the courthouse in Caddo Parish where a United Daughters of the Confederacy “monument” has stood since 1905. It was, as the “monument” says, “Erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. 1905, Love’s Tribute to Our Gallant Dead.” On Sunday, June 29, another protest occurred at the “monument” calling for its removal, which has been on the books for a while, and individuals dressed in the Confederate flag appeared and taunted the protesters, yelling at them and hurling racial slurs. One man even told a protester to perform fellatio on him.
The local media didn’t really cover this, and there are videos on Facebook and elsewhere showing the incident. Nicki Daniels, Jr. organizer of Sleep is for The Rich Gun Club, heard about the incidents and came with others to the scene to protect the protesters. Again, no news coverage. On Tuesday June…