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Governor says Lafayette judge should resign after viral racist video
LAFAYETTE - The son of a Lafayette-area judge is no longer a member of the LSU Track & Field team after a racist video recorded at the family's home prompted nationwide calls for her resignation.
In the video, which surfaced on social media earlier this week, Lafayette City Court Judge Michelle Odinet and at least one other person could be heard shouting racial slurs while watching surveillance video of a burglary that unfolded in her family's driveway.
A male voice is heard saying, “And mom’s yelling n*****, n*****.” A woman then responds, “We have a n*****. It’s a n*****, like a roach.”
According to The Advocate, Odinet's attorney confirmed the judge was one of the people heard shouting the slur in the video. The male voice—heard referring to Odinet as "mom" in that video—has not been publicly identified, though Odinet does refer to her son "Eli" at one point in the recording.
During his end-of-year address Thursday, Governor John Bel Edwards said the judge should step down, adding that any African-American litigants whom end up in her court would likely seek her recusal.
"There is no official administration of justice if she stays on the bench," the governor said. "I believe she should resign. I hope she will conclude that for herself."
Just hours later, LSU Athletics confirmed that her son, Elijah Odinet, had been removed from the track team. Odinet has two other children on the team, both of whom were still listed on the LSU track roster as of Thursday afternoon.
A day earlier, the team posted a statement on social media saying that racism would not be tolerated.
After the video circulated, Odinet defended herself in a statement saying she took a sedative after the incident and that she had no recollection of the exchange heard in the recording.
"My children and I were the victim of an armed burglary at our home. The police were called and the assailant was arrested. The incident shook me to my core and my mental state was fragile. I was a wreck and am still unable to sleep. I was given a sedative at the time of the video. I have zero recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it. Anyone who knows me and my husband, knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives. I am deeply sorry and ask for your forgiveness and understanding as my family and I deal with the emotional aftermath of this armed burglary."
Odinet took a leave of absence this week and remains on unpaid leave as of Thursday.
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