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$22M Lawsuit on School

A West Monroe man has filed a $22 million lawsuit in federal court seeking for West Monroe High School to stop calling themselves the Rebels.

The use of the Rebels nickname promotes racial discrimination in public education, according to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court.

"The Confederacy promotes the slavery of African Americans and should not be allowed to continue in Louisiana public education," according to the lawsuit.

Ricky Eugene Minnifield also names the Ouachita Parish School Board and the state Department of Education in the lawsuit he filed himself.
Minnifield declined to comment for this story and said he may address the issue at a later time.

In the lawsuit, Minnifield said he has "suffered continued feelings of disappointment and emotional deterioration and rupture due to public education's promotion of the glorification of slavery."

West Monroe High School Principal Shere May referred questions to School Board attorney Elmer Noah.

School Board members the Rev. John Russell and Scott Robinson, whose districts include the high school, declined to comment until they had further information about the lawsuit.

Superintendent Bob Webber said the district had no intention of removing the nickname.

"My feelings personally is that this is not illegal and not discriminatory," Webber said.

The Rebel tradition is a point of pride, he said.

Noah said the lawsuit was "very defensible" and that the decision to keep the nickname is ultimately up to the School Board.

Students interviewed for this story said they didn't find the nickname discriminatory and thought it should be kept.

"I don't think it's racist at all," said Brigitte Day, a West Monroe High senior.

Stephanie Richard, also a senior, couldn't see what else the school could possibly be called.

"We've always been the Rebels," Richard said.

While he could see how it could be offensive, Luther Davis said he didn't see anything wrong with it.

Davis, a junior, plays defensive end for the football team and said he didn't know anyone at school who had taken issue with the nickname.

"I happen to like the mascot," he said. "Everybody likes being a Rebel in West Monroe."

On The Web: http://www.thenewsstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2005512140317