Louisiana lawmakers must hold governor accountable for deceit

Louisiana’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, has a lot of explaining to do after evidence surfaced that he was complicit in perpetuating a lie about the 2019 police killing of detainee Ronald Greene. The Associated Press reports that Edwards was informed within hours after state troopers arrested Greene and reported having had a “violent, lengthy struggle” with the detainee, who was in restraints at the time. Edwards denies impeding justice.

Troopers insisted after Greene’s death that he died as a result of injuries sustained in a high-speed car chase, and Edwards went along with that implausible story for two years even though he had information that should have caused him to challenge the story without hesitation. But, alas, he was in the middle of a tight reelection bid and, well, um, apparently didn’t want to look like he wasn’t supporting law enforcement.


If Edwards had an ounce of character and courage, he would have stood for the cause of justice over the cause of his own reelection. Opting to perpetuate a lie rather than speak the truth is exactly why this newspaper has criticized so many Republican leaders at the national and state level. In Edwards’ case, our hope is that GOP lawmakers in his state are relentless in their quest to hold him accountable — and that the standard they set with Edwards will continue to be one they uphold in all other cases.

Louisiana House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, a Republican, accurately accused Edwards of “gross misconduct and the highest level of deceit” for his role in defending the officers’ lie about what happened to Greene. In May, The Associated Press obtained troopers’ body-camera footage that made clear what had actually happened to Greene, who was Black. The footage showed the white troopers jolting him with stun guns, punching him in the face and dragging him by his ankle restraints while Greene begged for mercy.

It was only after the AP reported on the video that Edwards condemned the troopers for what he called their “criminal” actions. Nevertheless, when Schexnayder proposed a legislative inquiry, Edwards tried to steer him away, insisting that Greene had “died in a wreck.” Would that wreck have happened after Greene had supposedly slipped his restraints, escaped from stun-gun-wielding troopers, recovered from his beatings and somehow driven away in a car? Or did he die of the car-wreck wounds before the abuses recorded on video?

Edwards cannot explain his way out of this one. Greene’s mother has called for him to resign, which would be a proportionate action, given the governor’s willful deceit and assistance in obstructing justice.

It’s up to Louisiana Republicans to hold Edwards accountable. And they should find willing partners among the state’s Democrats, unless they have suddenly succumbed to the national trend of blindly defending their partisans, regardless of the crime.

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