Officials condemn Odinet’s involvement in offensive video

UPDATE, 11:34 am: Louisiana Democratic Party President calls for the resignation of Lafayette City Judge Michelle Odinet following a controversial video of racial slurs.

“We will not tolerate bigotry on the bench. Equity and impartiality cannot coexist with racism; Lafayette needs a new judge, ”Louisiana Democratic Party President Katie Bernhardt said in a press release. “I ask for the immediate resignation of Judge Odinet.

UPDATE, 11:34 am: Shortly after the remarks by Field Marshal Reggie Thomas of Lafayette City on the involvement of Judge Michelle Odinet in a video of racist insults, Dist. 24 State Senator Gerald Boudreaux also issued a statement:

Allow me to express my disappointment, as words are insufficient to describe my pain after watching the family video at the home of our current municipal court judge, Ms Odinet.

We have struggled miserably to gain public support for our justice system at all levels in this country. The political landscape has become so toxic that the negative impact has been identified and evident from the United States Supreme Court to Lafayette City Court. I can assure you that the late Judge Kaliste Saloom, Jr. did not allow and never would tolerate this racist speech from any of his children, in his residence or in his neighborhood.

The Lafayette community deserves and must have loyal political leadership if it is to be respected and recruit businesses and families who will end up calling Acadiana their home. I respectfully request and will formally request the Louisiana Judicial Commission to investigate the ethical conduct and actions associated with recent developments.

This situation and the comments are reprehensible, offensive and totally unacceptable on the part of anyone who serves as a judge. The comments do not identify any form of lamentation and cast a cloud over the impartiality of the judge to serve as an impartial arbiter in cases involving African Americans.

As the Advent season continues, I pray for justice and peace and for a keen awareness of all members of our community, especially as we identify and address sensitive, cultural and racial issues. Mishandling or continued denial contributes to a high level of tension, division and destruction. I once again call on the community to speak out against the chaos and confusion that has seeped into Washington, DC and is now evident in Lafayette, LA.

While some might say that our brightest days are before us, this situation highlights the dark past that has destroyed many communities. Keeping silence when it’s time to speak is a sign of complicity. Our community deserves better and we shouldn’t stop until we have accountability and transparency.

Dist. 24 State Senator Gerald Boudreaux

ORIGINAL POSITION: LAFAYETTE, Louisiana (KLFY) – Lafayette City Marshal Reggie Thomas calls for City Judge Michelle Odinet to be “held accountable” after images were released showing people allegedly used racial slurs in her home after an attempted break-in.

The video consists exclusively of security camera footage of the attempted break-in. In the video, a few voices can be heard using a racial insult when reacting to the footage from the security camera. Social media sources say the video occurred in Odinet’s living room, although none of the voices heard on the video could be seen.

Thomas, who issued a press release this morning, said “an ineffective and weak apology would not be enough” for Odinet’s response to the video. Odinet said she “had been sedated at the time of the video” and therefore had no recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it. The Lafayette NAACP parish chief has called for Odinet’s resignation following the publication of the video.

Thomas’ statement can be read in full below:

“When I was elected as the city marshal, one of my promises was to ensure that anyone who came to city court for whatever reason would be treated fairly and with integrity. I believe my office has done its part to make it happen. Yesterday a video surfaced with several people using the N word. I understand Lafayette City judge Michelle Odinet confirmed that the video was taken at her residence. Since then, several people have asked me for my position and my thoughts on the matter.

Before I was elected the first African American to a city-wide seat of Lafayette, I was a proud black man. Even at this stage of maturity in my life, this language still hurts deep inside me. I’m sure most people of color share my pain when the N word is used to describe us. That being said, I’m sure people of color will find it hard to believe that they will be treated fairly and equitably when they come before Judge Odinet. This type of language cannot be accepted or tolerated by anyone, especially those who serve as leaders in our city.

I understand that a burglary has taken place, and it is a distressing circumstance. Nevertheless, it is in difficult situations that our character is revealed. The use of the N word to describe any individual is not only deplorable, it is indicative of racial prejudice, let alone on the part of such a high representative of our justice system.

As a proud black man and as Marshal de Lafayette, I firmly believe that Judge Odinet should be held accountable. It’s up to Judge Odinet to remember the oath she took, and if she stays on the bench, to find a way to regain the trust of “all” Lafayette, especially African Americans. Mere ineffective and weak excuses will not suffice.

As stated before, I promise everyone who walks through the doors of the municipal court that my marshals will be respectful and keep everyone safe.

Lafayette City Marshal Reggie Thomas

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