Guillory Administration Won’t Offer Shelter To Evacuees As Long As Protesters Present ‘Serious Threat’
Mayor-President Josh Guillory's administration is advising local volunteer organizations to halt any efforts to shelter evacuees from Hurricane Laura due to recent protests that they describe as a "serious threat."
The following email from LCG CAO Cydra Wingerter appeared on Reddit and eventually made its way around social media.
LCG communications director Jamie Angelle confirmed the email was sent from Wingerter to Acadiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (AVOAD) leadership after the administration initially reached out late last week to assist in the event they would possibly open shelters within Lafayette parish.
Angelle told our KPEL News team that "unrest" from this weekend's protests caused "concerns" among the AVOAD group that was already dealing with hurdles due to lack of shower facilities and state/federal support due to COVID-19.
Angelle also noted that the state is currently not allowing for sheltering due to COVID-19 restrictions and that Wingerter's email calls for a "pause" on any action to establish a shelter at this time due to unrest that Mayor-President Guillory's administration describes as a "serious, local security threat" of protesters.
Local protesters have been vocal about their demands to speak with Guillory after the fatal officer-involved shooting of Trayford Pellerin on Aug. 21 at a local convenience store off of Evangeline Thruway. There are still many unanswered questions as state police continue to investigate the incident but protests have gone on in the city since Lafayette Police killed Pellerin.
Over the weekend, protesters marched from the Alfred Mouton statue in Downtown Lafayette to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus, voicing their demands for racial equality and denouncing police brutality.
But the protest that made headlines was a small demonstration by Unity7 member Tara Laxey on Sunday afternoon. The Lafayette woman set up a barbecue grill in the street out in front of Mayor-President Guillory's home residence, cooking hamburgers and hot dogs over an open flame in what she described as a peaceful invite for a conversation to take place.
Police were called to the scene shortly before 3 p.m. and Laxey was arrested and taken into custody with no incident. She was charged with obstructing a public passageway and disturbing the peace. She bonded out later that afternoon.
Due to the peaceful nature of this weekend's protests, many on social media questioned what "serious threat" Guillory's administration was referring to—a sentiment that Angelle almost seemed to support in this report from The Advocate.
In no way are we saying that (Saturday's) protest was dangerous or violent. It was a lawful and peaceful protest, and we certainly hope it remains that way. Just given everything that's circulating — if you look at last weekend and the event that happened on the north side — our fear is that something will happen.
Both Guillory and Lafayette police referred to "bad actors" from outside of the Acadiana area, but no specifics have been given on how they've reached that conclusion. In the same report from The Advocate, public records all arrests made during the protests thus far have been from Lafayette and immediate surrounding areas.
Local activist and member of The Village, Devon Norman is proud that every protest that his collective has had in Lafayette has been peaceful, even garnering praise from the Mayor-President and Lafayette Police Department Interim Chief Scott Morgan. Norman believes that Guillory pointing the finger at protesters as the reason for pausing critical help for people evacuating from Laura is both reckless and dangerous.
The Mayor-President is inciting some type of fear in people to make them uncomfortable with black and white people coming together to exercise their second amendment rights and also standing with people who are making their voices heard about the inhumane behaviors of the Lafayette city police department. The sheriff Mark Garber even made it clear that no one had any bad intentions. It is clear the Mayor-President does not want to unite Lafayette, but to continue to divide the community! However, I would like to ask him why he never addressed the fact that Jamal Taylor and myself were receiving actual death threats. Or was the threat someone inviting him to a cookout outside of his house. Why is he so offended about people from the Northside coming to his neighborhood?
Norman, whose philanthropic work also includes hurricane relief, told me there were no "bad actors" from out of town and that any propaganda to suggest otherwise was "embarrassing."
Laxey, who was arrested for grilling in front of Guillory's home, believes that the Mayor-President's administration is scapegoating peaceful protesters by making it seem like they are the ones denying shelter and relief to evacuees in need.
Josh Guillory is using that as an excuse. That's what he does. Haven't you noticed that yet? He says things then twist it to fit his own agenda while others suffer.
Reactions on social media continue to be mixed regarding the latest call from the Guillory administration, especially after a presser yesterday ensured citizens that the city was "under control." Locals have shared firsthand photos of the devastation and the general consensus seems to be that help for those affected by this historic storm is paramount.
Angelle remains adamant that the state's sheltering efforts will be able to handle those who have been displaced by Hurricane Laura, pointing out that every hotel in Lafayette Parish is booked up.
I don't think this will prevent anyone from getting shelter. Will they have to maybe go a little farther? Unfortunately, that's probably the case.
Even with the pause on efforts to provide shelter to evacuees, there are numerous local efforts being orchestrated by citizens and non-profits in the Acadiana region and we will be broadcasting those efforts, both on-air and online via our website and social media.