Marco and Laura won’t deter Lafayette protestors

Hundreds of Lafayette-area residents gathered at the Shell convenience store, the site of the police shooting of Trayford Pellerin, in protest Saturday afternoon.

The gist: Activists with the local NAACP staged a sit-in at City hall Monday, two days ahead of Tropical Storm Laura’s expected landfall as a hurricane. Jamal Taylor, 33, one of the NAACP organizers, has promised more action in days to come both on the ground and over Zoom, as part of an ongoing effort to demand answers about the shooting death of 31-year-old Trayford Pellerin at the hands of Lafayette police Friday. 

“We are not deterred by a little rain,” Taylor says. 

The mayor-president met with clergy Monday. A pair of hastily announced press briefings — one addressing the unrest and the other Tropical Storm Laura —  were delayed for more than an hour Monday afternoon while Mayor-President Josh Guillory met with Black church leaders at Lafayette Police Department headquarters. Those leaders did not appear with Guillory when he emerged to speak to reporters and offered, for the first time since the shooting, words of condolence for Pellerin’s family. 

“We can recognize this pain. We can grieve for a family, and still support law enforcement,” Guillory said. “And we are.” 

Like all of Lafayette, protestors are prepping for the storm. At a discount grocery store, just a half-mile south of where Pellerin was killed, families packed up pallets of bottled water and other storm supplies. One of the only big-box grocers on Lafayette’s economically distressed Northside, and located on a potholed evacuation route, the store’s parking lot was full. Residents are looking past Marco, which began breaking up early Monday, and toward Laura. 

Protestors took to Evangeline Thruway Saturday night, at times blocking traffic. Police in riot gear used smoke canisters to disperse the crowd after rocks were thrown at the Moss Street police station and small fires set in the median. (Photo by Travis Gauthier)

R.J. Cormier, 25, stocked up on water and food from a dollar store near his home and withdrew cash to have on hand. Cormier was one of several activists, unaffiliated with the NAACP, who called for a demonstration Sunday night that started at the Acadiana Mall and culminated with protestors locking arms to shut down traffic in River Ranch. Several demonstrators were arrested. 

Some may take to the streets again tonight. Cormier says he is waiting out the storm for his next move, but others are itching for more action. Meanwhile, he hopes the fervor of the last few days doesn’t lose steam while people hunker down. 

“If [the storm] is going to be bad, the momentum is going to shift. And I hope they have that same energy. But that depends on that weather,” Cormier said. 

About the Author

Christiaan Mader founded The Current in 2018, reviving the brand from a short-lived culture magazine he created for Lafayette publisher INDMedia. An award-winning investigative and culture journalist, Christiaan’s work as a writer and reporter has appeared in The New York Times, Vice, Offbeat, Gambit, and The Advocate.

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