The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Student Action and Organizing Committee gathered at Parc Sans Souci in Downtown Lafayette on Monday, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. in protest of Mayor-President Josh Guillory.
SAOC Members Mark Mallory, Kai Duckworth and Madison Price gave passionate speeches criticizing Guillory’s comments regarding mass incarceration, lack of transparency with the media and his treatment of Chief Administrative Officer Beth Guidry that allegedly forced her out of office.
“We are concerned with his dehumanizing rhetoric around incarcerated people, but we also believe that, generally, his administration's tactics aren't the stuff of good government, that he has extreme partisanship and prejudice in that way,” Mallory said.
At a Lafayette Downtown Forum in 2019, Guillory made a comment about Lafayette’s incarcerated population.
“If tents and cots are good for our service members, they’re good enough for prisoners,” Guillory said.
Mallory said this dehumanized prisoners:
“It might be fashionable among his social class of Baton Rouge lawyers to dehumanize black, brown and poor people who are incarcerated and populate our prisons and jails, but it isn't popular among real people, and it certainly isn't popular here tonight. The clear truth is that despite so-called reforms, mass incarceration as a structure in our society continues unabated in the United States, in Louisiana and in Lafayette, as evidenced by the dehumanizing rhetoric of ignorant white folk like Mayor Josh.”
Price focused his speech on Guidry’s resignation:
In an interview with the Acadiana Advocate, Guidry claimed Guillory threatened to fire her if she didn’t stop associating with people qualified to run against Guillory’s supporters for the Republican Parish Executive Committee. Guillory admitted this contributed to her resignation.
“My concern was those individuals running for RPEC are liberal Democrats running as Republicans,” Guillory said.
Price felt this was an overly political move for someone who, according to Price, portrayed himself as a political outsider during his campaign.
“For someone who isn’t a politician, he seems to be a quick learner,” Price said.
Afterward, attendees were encouraged to stay, eat pizza and register to vote if they haven’t already.
Mallory himself said the event wasn’t a protest, but rather a community demonstration.
According to the SAOC Facebook, 187 people said they were interested in attending, but only 25 people showed up.
“I expected more people. I hoped people would come, but I enjoyed it. Mark and Kai and all of them are really well-spoken on this. They're really passionate about it, I'm really passionate about it,” Ian Girouard, an attendee at the event, said. “I think that this city is not just conservatives, that there is a mix. There’s a lot of people that don’t get a voice in politics, at least from local politicians.”
Despite this, Price said he was satisfied with how the event turned out.
“We had a media presence. We had a presence from the community. I mean, we spoke with confidence. We spoke with eloquence. Overall, I’d say that’s a success,” he said.