LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — With tensions rising between Lafayette officials and protestors, community activists are asking the Mayor-President to deescalate civil unrest.
Christopher Bernard is a community activist for the group Unity 7 and said he didn’t want to see Lafayette vandalized by outside groups.
He believes Mayor-President Josh Guillory can bring more peace right now through dialogue rather than threats.
“I want the people to be treated equal. That’s all that I want,” said Bernard.
He invited national activist Gerry Monroe to Lafayette to help create a blueprint for safe protests.
Monroe said for things to improve, “Egos have to be set aside. Egos will stop this thing from working.”
Mayor-President Josh Guillory was asked Saturday if he would meet with protest leaders, and his answer was a one-word “no.”
Local people who participate in peaceful protests warn ignoring them could only make things worse.
“People are tired, and it’s only so much longer we can hold them and tell them don’t do this don’t do that because it looks like I don’t care when I say that,” admitted Bernard.
Both Bernard and Monroe advised if the mayor-president wants to help, he can personally call or meet with the family of Trayford Pellerin to give condolences, help them see their child’s body, and initiate a conversation with those calling for change.
“I know that it’s a talking point for this particular group, but when you are promoting crime and unrest, it’s not healthy,” Guillory said. “I have nothing to say to someone who is going to cause pain in our community.”
The mayor president met with religious leaders last week, but Bernard questioned if that’s enough, citing only 30% of the lafayette community attend church.
Guillory said he is not interested in speaking with protest organizers comparing it to how presidents do not negotiate with terrorists.
Lafayette Police and Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Deputies say out of state “agitators” are already interfering in local protests.
“You can bring people from out of town, we can bring people from out of town too,” Interim Lafayette Police Chief Scott Morgan said.
Gerry Monroe said he was called from out of state by bernard to organize protests so that things don’t escalate and destructive coalitions don’t come in.
“Nothing that I have said has come in the form of civil unrest. It came in the form of repairing and healing this community because it’s going to blow. It’s eventually going to blow if you keep ignoring it,” said Monroe.
“And we’re really trying to prevent it,” added Bernard.
The men said when voices go unheard, that’s often when groups like the NFAC and Black Panthers interfere to make sure they can’t be ignored.
Lafayette Parish Councilman AB Rubin did speak the Monroe and other community leaders Monday, and they said they have a productive conversation.
They both agreed they don’t want things to come to the point where outside groups interfere.
“They don’t have to come, just do the right thing,” urged Monroe. “Show the people that we’re working toward a peaceful solution in this, and then guess what happens? They are going to give you some wiggle room and wait for the process to work.”