Council Attempts to Ban Colorful Graves in Louisiana

A Louisiana politician is cracking down on colorful gravestones after claiming he has received multiple complaints about a local cemetery.

Terrebonne Councilman Alvin Tillman has proposed a new law that would make it illegal to paint a tomb any color other than white at three local cemeteries, including Southdown Cemetery.

"We want to stop this before it gets out of hand. ... Before you know it you'll go out there and the cemetery will look like Mardi Gras," Tillman told The Associated Press.

It is unclear who the complaints have come from, but according to sources colorful graves are considered a serious problem and critics like Tillman deem it necessary to proceed with the controversial proposed law.

Director of Development and Planning for the parish, Patrick Gordon agrees with Tillman and has agreed to send the proposal to full council.

A public hearing will soon take place and if it is passed visitors would be prosecuted for painting tombs.

"We don't want to see it get out of hand...I mean, what if someone wanted to paint their tomb LSU colors? I don't think purple and gold would be appropriate there," Gordon said.

Visitors who violate the law would likely face criminal misdemeanor charges.

Sources say that currently there are a number of vibrant and colorful graves at Southdown Cemetery. Many visitors enjoy painting and decorating the graves of loved ones, because it can make what is often a painful and sad experience a much brighter experience.

Angie Green, executive director of the New Orleans organization Save Our Cemeteries, is against the proposed new law.

In a letter to the editor of the Houma Courier, Green urged the council to stop its plan to propose a ban on painting graves.

“Historically, the limewash used on family tombs was colored in shades of yellow, ochre, pink, gray and red," Green wrote in the letter.

A public hearing on the issue will be held next month on Jan. 11.