SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins is responding to rumors circulating on social media alleging that he told the city’s police and fire departments not to help Bossier City or the Secret Service with the upcoming visit by President Donald Trump for a campaign rally.
“I have no idea to speak on that, the rumor mill and where that came about,” Perkins said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
“There was a couple of stories run prematurely about the city of Shreveport not supporting the President of the United States and I gotta say that that is false. We are providing security to the degree that we legally can provide security. So that was misinformation that was put out.”
Late Wednesday afternoon, however, District D Councilman Grayson Boucher told KTAL/KMSS that he had learned that the mayor’s office contacted the Secret Service Tuesday afternoon to advise them that he had decided to pull back on some of the resources Shreveport planned on sending due to possible legal conflicts with Shreveport city ordinance and state law regarding the use of public funds for a political event. Boucher also said he contacted law enforcement and Congressman Mike Johnson and they allegedly confirmed that it did in fact happen.
“My response is disappointment,” said Boucher. “The City of Shreveport has been involved in these talks for almost three weeks now. Knowing that the President of the United States is coming here, it’s the first President that’s been here since I believe 2006. We’ve been involved I believe our fire department bomb squad has been involved with this for almost three weeks and for us at this 23rd hour to deny the President this is a little bit disappointing.”
That appears to have been what prompted the letter Boucher, along with Dist. D Councilman John Nickelson and Dist. E Councilman James Flurry, sent to the mayor Wednesday morning urging Perkins to “rescind your order and to immediately instruct our police officers and firefighters to provide all assistance and support necessary to ensure the safety of the President of the United States and his staff during his visit.”
The letter goes on to add, “When it comes to defending and protecting the Office of the Presidency, we are not Republicans or Democrats – we are all Americans. President Trump is our Commander-in-Chief, he is entitled to our respect, and politics should never compromise his personal safety.”
The rumor appears to have been additionally fueled by a text that was reportedly sent from a Shreveport police supervisor to officers claiming to have been advised to “stand down” assisting with the Trump motorcade Thursday, because “The Mayor has advised he does not want SPD or SFD involved.”
Those rumors prompted social media posts such as one from a Twitter user who said, “Heard news.. Shreveport mayor Adrian Perkins will make Shreveport police officers, firefighters and other First Responders to stand down helping Bossier, Secret Service and presidential Envoy for President Trump’s rally in Bossier City tomorrow night. If so true… a total POS.”
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry also appeared to admonish Mayor Perkins in a tweet referencing the rumors late Wednesday morning, saying, “The Mayor of Shreveport should help protect the health and safety of citizens attending President @realDonaldTrump’s rally. The Mayor, and the Governor, should make it clear – publicly – that they support all efforts to protect those citizens attending.”
In response to the questions raised on social media, the mayor’s office initially sent out a statement Wednesday morning saying that the city does plan to provide first responders to assist with the presidential visit.
“Please understand that the President is not coming to Shreveport. His campaign is flying into Barksdale Airforce [sic] Base and the rally will be held at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City. While the City of Shreveport is constrained by city ordinances that prohibit city property from being used for political purposes, the City is providing first responders and intends to follow all local, state, and federal laws as it relates to this matter.”
By early Wednesday afternoon, the mayor had called a brief news conference to further explain that the city could be sending first responders to assist in the Bossier City rally, just as it had for Monroe.
“We sent Shreveport Fire Department to Monroe for the president’s rally, so again, we are doing what we are legally permitted to do, and that will not change.”
However, Perkins cited security concerns in declining to offer any further specifics on those resources, including how many personnel or crews. He also declined to comment on whether and how the city would be reimbursed by the Trump campaign for the use of those resources, saying only that “There is a nexus between payment and the resources that we provide to these events. But again, I wanna be very careful when I talk about reimbursement. So yes, there is a nexus for reimbursement of payment to where we are reimbursed for the resources that we provide.”
While the mayor’s office has not yet responded to a request for comment on whether any resources the city previously planned to provide had been scaled back within that last 24 hours, the mayor did make a point to say that if President Trump were coming to Shreveport in his official capacity, it would be a different story.
“The president is not here in the official state capacity. He is here for a campaign rally in support of gubernatorial candidate Rispone. So, no, he’s not here in an official state capacity. So, we issued a letter earlier today saying that if the president is coming in an official capacity, to talk about infrastructure and economic development, to the city of Shreveport, we’d be happy to welcome him. Be happy to talk to him about how we can get resources into our community and how we can get more support from the federal government. “
That letter was Perkins’ response to the council members, and it ended with the following statement:
“If the Council would like to amend the city ordinance and lobby legislators to change state laws, I would be glad to comply. Finally, if the President’s campaign is willing to expend the funds for additional support, the City stands ready to assist.”
Asked what direction the fire department had received from the Mayor’s office in regard to assisting with the presidential visit, SFD Chief of Special Operations and Safety Scott Pinkston said the department has been told all requests for comments should be directed to the Mayor’s office.
President Trump is set to lead the rally Thursday night at the CenturyLink Center for Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone in hopes of keeping incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards from winning another term in office.
The event is expected to bring thousands of visitors from the region and across the country to the Shreveport-Bossier area.
As reported on ArkLaTexHomepage.com Tuesday, CenturyLink General Manager Rebecca Bonnevier says the fire marshall will allow 14,200 people inside the venue for Thursday’s event. Attendees are required to have tickets for security reasons, but the tickets are free and do not guarantee a seat. Tickets are first-come, first-serve and limited to two tickets per mobile number. Once the capacity inside the venue is reached, the doors will close. Click here to register.
“Generally speaking, we have heard in the past there are more tickets out than people could get in, so it’s important to get here as soon as possible if you want to be inside,” said Bonnevier. Attendees who don’t make it in will be able to view the rally on LED screens set up outside.