Residents fought over a Confederate statue for months. Hurricane Laura made the final decision.
via Travis Akers / Twitter

The South's Defenders monument in Downtown Lake Charles, Louisiana has been a bone of contention for locals. The statue was first erected in 1915 to recognize local residents and those throughout the south who fought for the Confederacy.

After George Floyd was murdered in March, there were renewed calls to remove the statue. His death inspired many to reconsider Confederate monuments and at least 59 have been removed in recent months.

"The people of Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish once again voice their desire to destroy the statue and remove the memory of slavery from its literal and figurative pedestal within the community," a Change.org campaign calling for its removal read.


A special city council meeting was called in July to decide the statue's fate. Before the meeting, parish administrator Bryan Beam said he'd received 945 written responses from the community and 878 were against its removal and just 67 were in favor.

John Guidroz / Twitter

It's hard to understand why anyone would want a statue honoring a pro-slavery movement that attempted to destroy the United States of America. But the council sided with them, voting 10 to 5 to keep the statue up.

The decision didn't stop local residents' calls to tear it down.

"We're beginning a series of events predicated on making sure the monument comes down or making sure that we create as much noise until it comes down," Darius Clayton told the AP. "If they think we are done, they are sorely mistaken."

After the decision, protesters launched a boycott of businesses with ties to the council's board members.

On Thursday morning, it appears as though an act of God made the final decision on the statue. Hurricane Laura touched down at 1 am, bringing 130-mile-per hour gusts of wind – some of the strongest the region has ever seen.

The hurricane knocked down the monument at the soldier's ankles, toppling it to the ground.

The soldier now lies atop the monuments granite steps, motionless, much like his fallen brethren during the war the claimed so many American lives.

via The Advocate / Twitter

"Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish has been filled with controversy and tension after our parish government by a vote of 10-5 refused to take down the Confederate South's Defenders Monument," Davante Lewis, director of public affairs at The Louisiana Budget Project, said on Twitter.

"Hurricane Laura had other plans and brought it down herself."

"My dad sent me some pics of the South's Defenders monument in Downtown Lake Charles post-Laura and... I think some people may be happy about this," Twitter user Andrew Beam said.

There's no word on whether the statue will be fixed and put back on its pedestal. But let's hope the residents and city council of Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish see the significance of the statue's toppling and leave it, as well as the rest of what the Confederacy stood for, in the past.

Plus, in the aftermath of a hurricane, the town should focus on efforts to rebuild the entire community instead of ripping it apart.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.