SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The process to remove a Confederate monument from downtown Shreveport is underway as crews removed boards from the monument’s base and put screened fencing around the Caddo Parish Courthouse Wednesday morning.

The Florida company contracted to move the statue from the courthouse lawn to private property at the Pleasant Hill Battlefield site in DeSoto Parish has until December 31 to complete the relocation.

Krystle Beauchamp, Caddo Parish Communications Manager, told KTAL news that Caddo Parish had the fence erected as part of their process. Beauchamp also said that the company in charge of the removal has not given the parish a firm removal date and the process of moving the monument will involve multiple steps.

The contract to relocate the Confederate monument was finalized in March, after years of legal battles and delays.

The marble and granite monument was erected between 1902 and 1906 on the grounds of the Caddo Parish Courthouse, which was built in 1926, where two previous courthouses stood. One of those original courthouses even served as the state capital of Louisiana during the Civil War.

The Caddo Commission originally voted to remove the monument back in 2017, setting off a legal battle with the Shreveport chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) over the monument itself and ownership of the land on which it stands. The UDC also claimed parish officials violated its rights to free speech and equal protection.

The UDC and the Caddo Parish Commission ultimately signed a settlement agreement in July 2020 in which the UDC gave ownership of the land on which the memorial sits to Caddo Parish. In exchange, Caddo Parish agreed that UDC owns the monument and that the Parish would foot the bill for its removal, transportation, and re-installation.

The parish commission initially approved spending up to $500,000 to cover the costs, but Beauchamp says they have since determined that it will cost more to move the monument and allocated more money. The UDC has cited an expert who said the 30-foot-tall marble and granite structure is very fragile and could cost $1.26 million to be taken down and moved safely.