H.B. 697 OPPOSITION BY SHREVEPORT “LEADERS” IS DECADES OLD


As the Caddo Alliance for Freedom (CAF) now heads to Baton Rouge to secure the protection of its “rural” area property rights, members continue a battle another group of Caddoans faced decades ago.

It is a battle I well know.

On September 5, 1984, at its invitation, I addressed Shreveport’s Committee of 100 to share results of a study I had done (at my expense) on a core issue: Shreveport’s leadership could not understand the very deep divisions among four distinct “Shreveports”.

Notably, it is that same Committee of 100, along with the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, which has publicly opposed House Bill 697, the would-be legislative act which would once and for all protect property rights of Caddo Parish residents living outside Shreveport’s city limits.

Given that the Caddo Parish Commission has now voted for the state legislature to intercede on behalf of the CAF and others who support it, local history attached to this fight is important to understand.

The presentation I made to the Committee of 100 those thirty-five years ago was one I would later make to many other groups. Shreveport, as all who cared knew very well, was deeply divided in many ways. Its leadership was markedly exclusive.

That night in 1984, I made this summary statement from my study:

“The picture of Shreveport which is now emerging, however, is one of a city which is not immune to these problems of polarization, and a city which will be challenged greatly by those divisions, especially in the near term.”

The “near term” was much nearer than we expected. Within three years, the implosion of the American oil and gas industry would damage Shreveport to a degree unknown since the Great Depression.

Sadly, there were no “we’re all in this together” speeches from local leaders, news media or otherwise, owing in no small part to the absence of any “we” among Shreveporters.

A root cause jumped from the pages of my study. There was no cohesive Shreveport … there were “Four Shreveports” … black Shreveporters, East / Southeast Shreveport whites, Southwest whites, and West & North whites.

Residents of Caddo Parish outside Shreveport city limits were not included in my study, but a key finding related directly to those “rural Caddo” neighbors …

… the 20-years-earlier treatment by Shreveport “leaders” of some Southwest Caddo Parish residents stained the City, permanently turning many of them against “Downtown” in almost all things social, political, religious, and otherwise.

Tracing to the same root causes, we are able today to understand how the CAF came about, and how right and fair – and repetitive – its cause is.

Actual leaders in Southwest Caddo Parish at that time lived in such villages as Summer Grove, Keithville, Springridge and Four Forks. Those nearest to Shreveport – mainly Summer Grove – were more or less run over and out when all-but-invisible Downtown Shreveport leaders snagged the Western Electric Plant in the early 1960s.

City “leaders” involved in real estate development, banking, and retail shopping interests knew far, far more than others, and raced to annex Southwest Caddo land into the city.

When that annexation occurred, existing populations very strongly objected, arguing that the Caddo / Shreveport annexation ordinance(s) were rigged against them.

(Among the flash-points was how large-area property owners were able to throw-in with the Shreveport “leaders” – by way of unspecified incentives – and thus devalue “mere” residences.)

By the time of my study, the resentment of Southwest Shreveporters toward “downtown leaders” had deepened, owing in no small part to taxation and absence of transparency.

Today, these decades later, “downtown leaders” intend to use the new Unified Development Code (UDC) against the interests and legal protections of current Caddo Parish residents living within the arbitrary 5-mile radius of Shreveport.

Given that these parish residents live where they do specifically because they do not want that which the UDC would force upon them, there should be no surprise that they have (again) risen up to scream “NO!” (This time, they have “their” social media.)

Profits from would-be, someday sales and development of real estate (including Cross Bayou, perhaps?) are typically the driver of such manipulations, not that we the people can prove it.

Put more directly, why do these Shreveport “leaders” / real estate interests need to crank-up such manipulations as the UDC now? It is only logical to ask: what do these “leaders” know that mere property owners do not?

All who care should question how a shrinking Shreveport – a 7% population loss since 2010 with accompanying shrinkage in population density – needs “room to grow” into that 5-mile zone.

Throughout this history, named “leaders” on point for Shreveport have been its Chamber of Commerce and Committee of 100.

But this time opponents have the CAF.

© 2020 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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