[From the Morning Star and Catholic Messenger]
The Weekly Messenger, of St. Martinville, in its last issue has a welcome article headed 'Anti Regulators.' It therein announces that a call has been issued by twenty-eight influential citizens of Lafayette, for a meeting of respectable inhabitants in the interest of good order and tranquility. They represent inhabitants in the interest of good order and tranquility. They represent that property interests are unsettled by reason of prevalent lawlessness in that country, that confidence among neighbors is shaken and that, through perjury and criminal combinations, the efforts of the judicial authorities are thwarted and flagrant crimes go unpunished. Hence the necessity for energetic and organized action on the part of the law abiding citizens.
We agreed with the Messenger when it says, "Such organizations of law and order should exist in every parish where lawlessness has prevailed, not to make their own justice, but to help and assist the officers of justice."
It would, indeed, be of no special benefit that one lawless organization had been crushed by another equally devoid of authority. The stability of the law would be thereby in no degree vindicated.
But a lawful organization, to act within the law, and in aid of its officials, might indeed be productive of the happiest results. The law officers would feel their hands strengthened by it while the evil doers would be to a like extent discouraged. Perjury, would become, more or less abashed under a hostile public scrutiny and society would soon find itself redeemed from its former condition of chaos and decay.
Organization is the key-note of strength and progress to-day. The civilly disposed do not fail to combine to effect their purposes, for they are fully aware of the efficacy of such a policy. They ride in bands through the gloom of night, gaining courage, for themselves by their numbers and (unreadable word) terror into scattered communities of twice of thrice their numerical strength. Through the same unity of purpose, they become a potent political factor in their region and exert a commanding influence over jurors, if not judges.
If combinations is in itself such a power, why not invoke it in behalf of right and justice and decency. A band of twenty white caps or nighthawks will rule boldly and insolently over a whole parish of non-combatants when they would be very prudent if fifty determined men are pledged to capture or exterminate them under the orders of the sheriff.Lafayette Advertiser 1/4/1890.
TO THE PEOPLE OF THE PARISH OF LAFAYETTE.
At a meeting of citizens, for the purpose of proposing means for stemming the tide of lawlessness that threatens disaster to the material and moral interests of our community, this statement and the resolutions annexed were adopted. To carry into effect these resolutions an organization was completed, and its purpose declared as follows:
Your committee submit the following statement and the resolutions below:
We view with apprehension of evil the want of confidence and the danger of permanent division that now exists among the white citizens of this parish, brought about by the acts of an organization or combination pf individuals commonly called "Regulators." We cannot see how peace and order can be upheld, and material and moral progress continue, as long as this menace to every interest is joined in or tolerated by any considerable proportion of our citizens. In disjointed times, or in new countries where laws exist but the executive power is weak, combinations of individuals have sometimes been temporarily tolerated for the purpose of preserving human life and property, and then only with reluctance and debating for the shortest period. Now, in this State and parish, under laws of our own making administered by white officers of our own choosing, the history of the past year shows, to our shame, the existence here of an organization or combination of individuals, the consequences of whose acts have been a series of crimes that have cost the parish large sums of money, and have heaped upon it loads of shame. The bare remembrance of these crimes, without their recital, thrills with horror. We repudiate the pretense that our white supremacy is in need of such support, or can be upheld by crimes that disgrace humanity. Whenever a race issue, socially or politically, is presented, we can meet it firmly and as becomes brave men, without degrading and debasing the white men. An organization which participates in the destruction of the right of a community to choose its own officers; an organization which assumes to decide the matters of private right between individuals, and to execute its judgements; an organization which arrogates to itself the right to put into execution a criminal code of its own making, and brutally beats citizens in execution of pretended sentence thereunder; and organization which perpetuates fiendish murders, or seeks by every means to protect and defend those charged with murder, can have no rightful excuse for being in this community, and is to be borne with no longer than is required by a vigorous administration of the criminal laws of the State to put an end to it. We recognize that some of our friends, with the purest motives, have entered these organizations. We are persuaded they sympathize not with crime and lawlessness, and we now invoke their influence and active aid in loyally supporting the laws of our State in suppressing crime; therefore, it is
Resolved, That we expect hereafter speedy indictment and trial of the conspirators against public order and justice.
Resolved, That we will aid in every becoming way to the public officers in a faithful performance of their duty.
Resolved, That we will watch narrowly the conduct of jurors and witnesses, and will use all lawful means to procure truthful testimony, and honest, righteous verdicts.
Lafayette Advertiser 1/18/1890.
A Lafayette special to the Picayune, of the 21st inst., says: "The indictments returned by the grand jury yesterday against certain parties implicated in a regulator flogging, and which were referred to in these dispatches have to-day been made public. The parties arraigned are 21 in number, and all charged with conspiracy, the exact nature of which could not be learned, but in all probability it relates to the flogging of young Primeaux last fall by a party of Vermilion regulators. (Here follow the names of the parties, which will be seen in our court proceedings.) In reference to the above, the following dispatch was to-day forwarded to Governor Nicholls and Attorney General Rogers:
'Half the parish indicted. No use for troops. They will surrender immediately.' Signed by F. C. Latiolais and C. T. Cade.
Captain Cade arrived here from New Iberia to-day, and expressed himself in behalf of the accused parties.
In the matter of furnishing bond, one or two of the parties have been taken into custody and released on bond. The rest are still at large, but Captain Cade informed Judge Edwards, in the presence of your correspondent, that he had ordered them to appear to-morrow, so as to sign their bonds. To-morrow being a legal holiday, the Judge suggested Monday, and jokingly added that he felt sure the Captain's orders would be obeyed." We infer from the above that C. T. Cade and F. C. Latiolais have authority to consent to, or allow, the arrest and trial of the regulators indicted; otherwise, State troops would be necessary. If the Governor were called upon to act in the matter of sending troops, it is not at all probable that he would desire information blusteringly volunteered by any of the officers or chiefs of the regulators. It may be that the message to the Governor, if sent, was intended as sarcasm upon the authorities for having troops in this parish last year. We are glad to be able to state that the officers of the law are well supported by the law abiding citizens of the parish, and that any process of court can be promptly executed without the consent of the regulators, or the assistance of State troops, even of "half the parish" were indicted, Fallstaff included.
Lafayette Advertiser 3/1/1890.
A SCANDALOUS DISPLAY.
Vigilance Committee, 500 Strong, March through Vermilionville.
Some time ago, a colored man was found hung in the neighborhood of Royville. (now Youngsville) Although it was currently reported and believed that the man was lynched by the Vigilants and in day time, no witnesses could be obtained to testify at the Coroner's inquest, owing to the terror caused by such violent and lawless acts of the Vigilance Committees.
The persistent and laudable efforts of the District Attorney were however, finally partially successful and six of the individuals implicated in committing the crime, were arrested and required to appear for preliminary examination, which was fixed for the 3rd inst. For valid reasons, the examination was postponed, but on that day a large body of Vigilants, armed and mounted, numbering about five hundred, assembled in the woods about one mile from town. There they stacked arms and proceeded to march into town, the streets of which they paraded in military style, swarmed into and around the Court House. The bondsmen offered to surrender the accused parties to the Clerk of Court and were referred to the Sheriff as the proper officer, to whom the offer was made. The prison door was opened and with a smile, the Sheriff informed them that he was ready to accommodate them. But the accused protested that they did not understand the programme, and no delivery was made.
This scandalous display was evidently intended to overawe and intimidate the authorities and to rescue the prisoners. The acts and arrogant bearing of the Vigilants led to no other logical inference and justified the belief that such was the programme adopted.
The Vigilance organization is composed of many good and sincere men, but in this matter, deluded and over zealous. They profess their object to be, to assist the officers of the law in bringing thieves to justice. To that extent, they deserve credit and perform a duty that every good citizen owes the community. But when they go beyond the excesses, they themselves violate the law. The ardor of these misguided men is artfully kept alive by the astounding assurances, of perhaps designing persons, that Gov. Nichols lends countenance and encouragement to the existence of these organizations. If the Governor's name is improperly used in this connection, the victims of the trick should be undeceived.
It became incumbent upon us as a public journalist, on several occasions to condemn the excesses of these committees, and in doing so, have been fair and candid towards them and true and faithful to the best interests of the community, as understood by all intelligent and patriotic citizens. The leniency heretofore to the erring Vigilants has not borne good fruit, and right here, we will conclude by informing the authorities, that if laws are not enforced in such a manner as to remedy the evil, they will be responsible for the consequences.
Lafayette Advertiser 6/15/1878.
Lafayette Advertiser 6/22/1895.