As Response to Peaceful Protests, Lafayette Denies Shelter to Those Displaced by Hurricane Laura

Lafayette Parish Mayor-President Josh Guillory. Courtesy of his public Facebook account.

As Hurricane Laura ravaged Southwest Louisiana, leaving 400,000 without power and 200,000 without water, shelters and hotels across the state have opened their doors to those displaced by the storm. Many New Orleanians recall the same hospitality afforded to them after Hurricane Katrina. In 2005, Lafayette opened the Cajundome to house 18,000 residents who lost their homes in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

But this time, Lafayette Parish Mayor-President Josh Guillory has taken the opposite tack, instead closing his city’s doors to fellow Louisianians who lost everything.

Guillory’s chief administrative officer Cydra Wingerter cited fears of protests in an email to local shelters – wherein she astoundingly urged local nonprofits to keep their shelters closed.

Guillory has come under fire recently for a series of draconian responses to the shooting of Trayford Pellerin. In that encounter, a half dozen Lafayette police officers shot Mr. Pellerin eleven times outside of a gas station, killing him while he was retreating. 

In response, Guillory criminalized protests in downtown Lafayette, drawing fierce criticism from the state’s American Civil Liberties Union after he called protesters terrorists. 

It is under this pretext, a fear of outside agitators and “bad actors,” that Mayor-President Josh Guillory is now denying basic shelter to those who live just miles away from him. 

Stephen Handwerk, Executive Director of the Louisiana Democratic Party and Lafayette resident, said that Guillory “and his enablers should be ashamed.” 

“In a time when so many of our neighbors in the path of hurricane Laura have lost everything and need our help, Josh Guillory turned his back on them.Our neighbors in southwest Louisiana will be forced to travel hours away for shelter – those who have just lost their home, those who have limited or no transportation, those who might be without electricity for up to six weeks or more. It’s heartless, selfish, and certainly the most un-Christian thing I have ever seen.”

This is not the first time Mayor-President Guillory reacted fearfully to peaceful protests. On August 30, Tara Laxely set up a barbeque outside of Guillory’s house and invited the Mayor-President to discuss the shooting of Mr. Pellerin. Instead, he had Lafayette police arrest her. Mayor-President Guillory called it a “tragedy” that his children and wife had to see the cookout.

In a Reddit post to r/Acadiana, user Momoamis posted Guillory’s justification for keeping the shelters closed in the wake of peaceful protests

“We are not in a position to safeguard people displaced by Laura with this serious, local security threat. We know that bad actors will take our hospitality and use it against us.” 

“He’s using the excuse of a peaceful, LEGALLY armed protest to deny shelters to those to the west who desperately need it,” Reddit user Momoamis said. 

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