Activist Arrested at Library Board Meeting
The Lafayette Parish Library Board of Control has given the green light for a new branch in the northeastern part of the parish, but the debate leading up to that vote ultimately led to one person being arrested and escorted out of the meeting.
Local activist Matthew Humphrey was issued a summons for disturbing a public meeting. His arrest came after he made a sarcastic remark when the board recognized another activist, Michael Lunsford, to speak during a discussion about the possibility of banning a book from the library.
According to witnesses at the meeting, Humphrey said, "Yay," in a low voice when the board's clerk called Lunsford to the lectern to speak. That prompted board president Robert Judge to summon the sheriff's deputy, who then handcuffed Humphrey and led him out of the meeting room, into the elevator, and out of the library.
The episode began earlier in the meeting during a discussion about the a new branch for the Northside.
According to Alton Trahan, who is on Northeast Library Exploratory Committee, Humphrey was one of several members of the 50-person audience who objected to remarks members of the board made regarding renting space for the new branch instead building a new facility and the timetable it would take to build a new library. Trahan says a sheriff's deputy approached Humphrey and tried to escort him out of the room. Humphrey refused to leave. That's when Judge summoned the deputy, library director Danny Gillane, and city-parish attorney Mike Hebert into another room for a conversation.
After that side meeting, the board meeting continued with Humphrey allowed to return to the room.
About 30 minutes later, Humphrey made the remark that resulted in his ejection from the meeting.
Humphrey says he was not booked into jail--a fact verified by the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center's inmate database, which did not show a booking record for Humphrey. However, Humphrey says deputies told him he could not reenter the library.
Humphrey declined comment, saying he wanted to speak to his lawyer before speaking with us. However, shortly after the incident, he took to Twitter to give his side of the story.
So, What Exactly Happened with the Northeast Branch Discussion?
The library board ultimately voted to seek proposals to build the new Northeast Regional Library instead of leasing a facility.
Trahan says the project of this sort can be completed in four years. He says the five-to-seven year timetable came from documents that the library administration provided to his committee. According to Trahan, the administration provided a rough draft of the building proposal for the West Regional Library in Scott. The project was given a five-to-seven year timetable because the library had trouble finding land on which to build the facility.
"Part of the reason why it took so long was because they couldn't find property," Trahan said. "Right now, if you do the (request for proposal and) we get it back in 60 days, we'll have people who want to donate or sell property. It'll take another 90 days to make a selection and turn it over to the board. That process can be done in 10 to 12 months."
However, Trahan notes that no one so far has expressed an interest to donate or sell land for the new branch to the library board.
Trahan also says another issue the library board faced during the West Regional Library building process was hiring an architect and designer. According to Trahan, the library already has an architect and designer on staff, which will also trim the time needed to build the library.
"If we're steadfast in moving forward, we can get it done in four years," Trahan said.
Trahan says he expects to receive an update on the process next month.
Library Changes Challenge Committee
The library board changed the makeup of the committee that reviews book challenges filed by the public.
Previously, challenged books were reviewed by two library staff members and one board member. Now, two board members and one library staff member will review those books.
However, the board tabled an idea to create a restricted library card for minors 14-years-old and younger.
The discussion of these issues began with Lunsford reading passages from a book called "The 'V' Word." That book is one of two to be challenged in recent months.
“What I remember is wanting everything,” Lunsford read. “His touch sent me sizzling. Waves coursing over my body." Lunsford continued by reading passages that described oral sex.
Several speakers came to the lectern after Lunsford to oppose censorship in the Lafayette Public Library. One person asked of the library would consider banning the Bible, citing Genesis 19:30-38--the story of Lot's daughters getting him drunk and having sex with him without his knowledge so they could conceive children.