This past Christmas morning Steve and Cherry Fisher May, The Independent’s co-publishers, were driving through south Pennsylvania on the way to a family visit for the holidays. Just before noon, Cherry received two messages. The first, via a phone call, was news that her 81-year-old mother, Leta Gilmer Fisher, had passed away in Lafayette. Twenty minutes later came the second message when she opened an email with the subject line, “Merry Christmas!” The sender was Glenn Stewart.
His Christmas-morning missive, which was also sent to other news staff at The Ind, was awash in the simmering bile we had come to expect from the retired cancer physician. We mention the email because it demonstrates not only his capacity for outrageous behavior but also the degree to which Stewart, in his obsession for vengeance, has inserted himself intentionally and with great malice into our private lives.
We’ve responded publicly to Stewart before, but only within the context of his public salvos against us — the billboards, the hiring of homeless people to picket our office, the distribution of fliers at Independent-sponsored events.
But we’ve been loath to mention the personal communications from Stewart — nasty, hateful and vaguely threatening communication designed to intimidate and demoralize.
| Glenn Stewart faces a felony second-degree battery charge.
Mugshot courtesy of Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office
As a collective of media professionals employed at 551 Jefferson St., we try not to think of ourselves as victims. We know that such things come with the territory as it were, although this has certainly gone far, far beyond the pale. But it has been a trying nine months for many of us individually, especially Cherry Fisher May — one of the most magnanimous, community-minded people in Lafayette who plays no role in the news-coverage decisions of this paper yet has tried to take Glenn Stewart’s ghastly abuses as part of her job — and Erin May Fitzgerald, whose face until just a few days ago was bloodied and badly bruised from a physical beating by Stewart and still shows unmistakable signs of trauma more than a week after the attack.
Unfortunately we all but knew — in the back of our minds, in the pit of our stomachs — that it would come to this, to some brutal crescendo. (We hope, anyway, that it’s a crescendo, something ultimate and final.) But we thought it would be one of us on the news staff unlucky enough to find ourselves on the receiving end of Stewart’s boiling radiator and suffer its high-pressure wrath, not a mild-mannered school teacher and mother of three who took brief leave of her discretion and tried to remove a personally offensive banner from the side of a local Mardi Gras float after being confronted for the umpteenth time with an obsession that has proven boundless and obscene. A float that should not in the first place have been in a procession named — ironically, maybe, but hardly coincidentally — the Independent Parade.
So we find ourselves walking a fine line. We are outraged and angered by the personal attacks, especially the brutality visited on Erin. But our natural urge for vengeance is tempered by an awareness that there’s a greater good, namely mitigating the damage Glenn Stewart’s rage is inflicting on our community and retarding the dangerous escalation his grievances took last week.
Lafayette at large is a victim of Glenn Stewart. So too, unfortunately, are the tenants at Parc Lafayette, his local, upscale shopping destination, who unwittingly hitched their economic wagons to him. They are our neighbors, and we sincerely hope the objectionable public behavior of their landlord doesn’t hurt them economically, although we fear for some it may already be too late. On social media and personally to our staff members, many, many Lafayette residents have vowed never to part with a dollar at Parc Lafayette, an impulse we understand but wish they would reconsider. We learned that some prominent people in Lafayette have contacted La Madeleine, the Dallas-based French restaurant that was considering Parc Lafayette as a location to expand into the Hub City, to urge the restaurant to consider another — any other — location.
The Urban Land Institute, an urban-planning think tank, canceled a planned tour of and symposium on Parc Lafayette following the Mardi Gras attack. We are not surprised that the cascading effect of Stewart’s outrageous behavior continues to spread.
We wonder also about the board of directors of La Marquise, the upscale women’s department store, owned by Stewart himself, that will anchor Parc Lafayette and is scheduled to open within days. Last September Stewart told the daily newspaper that La Marquise would donate 100 percent of its profits to charities that focus on education and opportunities for women and that it would be governed by a 12-member board comprising some of Lafayette’s most civically engaged women — presumably women like Cherry Fisher May.
What of this board, assuming it remains part of Stewart’s plan for the store? How bewildered its members must be. After having witnessed a 6-foot-4, 240-pound Stewart savage two women — one with billboards, emails and fake protests, the other with his fist — can it not harbor grave reservations about associating with a man whose public behavior betrays a disturbing level of misogyny? We have learned that supporters of the upcoming gala fundraiser for Faith House, a shelter for battered women and their children, hope to leverage the Glenn Stewart saga, especially the latest chapter, to build awareness of this kind of behavior and raise money for their cause. We wish them success, for there’s very little good otherwise that can come of this sad, ugly episode in the history of our city.
We sincerely hope Dr. Stewart seeks the professional help he needs.
We also hope that by the time this editorial is published, Glenn Stewart has issued an unqualified public apology — to our community, to his tenants, and especially to Cherry and Erin.
They are ready to put this behind them.
We and the community are ready to put this behind us.
Only Glenn Stewart can make that happen.
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