Blacks in New Orleans Cry Foul over French Quarter Curfew

Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2012

From a distance, it seemed like common sense: an ordinance meant to keep children away from an open-air night-life zone with more than 350 places to buy booze, an abundance of strip joints and a 300-year-old reputation for iniquity.

But last week, as the New Orleans City Council approved a strict curfew for youths 16 and younger in the French Quarter, it sparked an incendiary debate that laid bare some of the tensions over race and police priorities that the Louisiana city—which suffers from the nation’s highest per capita murder rate—is struggling to resolve as it navigates its post-Hurricane Katrina future.

The ordinance, which was unanimously approved Thursday, revises a long-standing 11 p.m. curfew on Friday and Saturday nights to 8 p.m. for the French Quarter and part of the nearby Faubourg Marigny neighborhood.

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But in a pair of emotional public meetings, a number of residents, most of them African Americans, criticized the idea. Some alleged that the lawmakers were trying to keep low-income blacks out of the sightlines of tourists.

“There is this desire not to have these black males in the French Quarter,” said Tracie L. Washington, an attorney who heads the Louisiana Justice Institute, a nonprofit civil rights group.

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Washington has called for an African American boycott of the French Quarter to begin on Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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Tourism is the city’s largest source of employment, and it would seem foolish for a city government to neglect the French Quarter’s safety.

But critics of the new curfew fear it is an instance of misplaced priorities.

At the council meeting Thursday, critics said the curfew would result in racial profiling of young blacks. One man called it “the equivalent of a black code.”

Another African American speaker said that instead of “sugar-coating” the issue, the council should “just tell us straight up—you don’t want us.”

Some worried that police would harass black kids going to and from restaurant jobs, or when they were busking or tap-dancing for tips from tourists. Palmer, the councilwoman, said those kids would be left alone because the ordinance exempts, among others, people at work or headed to and from work.

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  • Anonymous

    I side with the black folks on this one.

    They should leave the blacks alone and require all the whites to carry Glocks with a laser site and high capacity magazines… and shooting lessons of course.   Problem solved. 

    When the ERs start filling with dead thugs and the crime rate drops, everyone will wonder why.  

  • Anonymous

    “There is this desire not to have these black males in the French
    Quarter,” said Tracie L. Washington, an attorney who heads the Louisiana
    Justice Institute, a nonprofit civil rights group.

    {snip}

    Washington has called for an African American boycott of the French Quarter to begin on Jan. 16,…”

    Imagine, as they boycott they will actually prove they’re the problem.  Maybe they’ll get the hint;  yes, it is exactly because no one wants these violent black males around.  When a long time troubled district suddenly becomes safe, the value of the old Black Code laws will become obvious.

  • Some worried that police would harass black kids going to and from
    restaurant jobs, or when they were busking or tap-dancing for tips from
    tourists. Palmer, the councilwoman, said those kids would be left alone
    because the ordinance exempts, among others, people at work or headed to
    and from work.

    First off, the curfew probably does have employment exemptions.

    However, if the French Quarter has nothing but bars and strip joints, then what is anyone under 17 doing working at one of these places? 

    Of course, we all know that blacks don’t stop making trouble when they turn 17.

  • Sincerely Concerned

    I’d like to know just how many kids legally employed in the French quarter, who are at or under 16 years of age, will be affected.  This is nothing more than local blacks in New Orleans admitting they’re a problem.  I mean, does the new curfew say, “No black male youths allowed after…blah blah blah”.  Nope.  It applies to all people 16 and younger after 8pm on Friday and Saturday nights.  So, why do some people suddenly get so defensive and say it’s to keep away low-income black males?  Sounds like guilt to me.

    We have a similar situation in a local bar district where many of my friends own and/or patronize bars, restaurants and retail shops.  This “avenue” is very similar to N.O.’s French Quarter.  A lot of black kids loiter around (I only mention black kids because I have never seen white kids do this), especially on Friday and Saturday nights, and most times in violation of curfew which is for those under 17 after 11pm.  There are hundreds and sometimes even thousands of them hanging around, so many that police cannot effectively enforce the curfew.  Most of these kids never even venture INTO town until well after 11. 

    Trust me, not a single one of them has a job in the area nor do they patronize any of the business open after 10pm because they’re too young.  This, along with the police also ignoring panhandlers of all ages, is killing tourism.  For example, we had a bowl parade on the avenue New Year’s Eve and nearly every single one of the 10,000 spectators bolted the area immediately after the parade even though it was dinner time and all of the restaurants were open.  We have a terrible reputation that we don’t deserve, all because of loiterers and panhandlers (often one and the same).  One cannot blame New Orleans for trying to clean themselves up.  That town’s been through enough already.  

  • ” Some alleged that the lawmakers were trying to keep low-income blacks out of the sightlines of tourists.” 
    No, they are trying to prevent tourists from getting shot.
     
    “There is this desire not to have these black males in the French Quarter,” said Tracie L. Washington .” 
    Ya think? 

  • Anonymous

    Problems in  the “Chocolate City”?

  • Anonymous

    The fact the French Quarter has endured as a major white tourist attraction while being in the midst of one of the nastiest black ghettos in the U.S.  is truly a tribute to the common sense and a great tribute to the state of Louisiana.

    Okay, yeah they are corrupt, but they have priorities. If I ever have to move I have seriously considered Louisiana but gosh it does get hot there.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if any of those “community activists” and their half-wit supporters are smart enough to realize that a boycott would be a fantastic opportunity to show that when blacks stop going to a given place, or go in smaller numbers, good things happen. Crime, especially violent crime, will plummet. More tourists will go, stay longer and spend more. That in turn will lead to further developement, jobs, etc. – a virtuous circle all made possible by the absence of blacks. Maybe we should focus our efforts on seeing what else we can tempt them to “boycott”.

  • Anonymous

    Historic cities need to remove blacks from central c ity in the interest of public safety.  New Orleans, Savannah and Charleston SUFFER FROM  BLACK CRIME; THIS COULD DESTROY THEM.  bETTER TO REMOVE THE BLACKS.  THE REST OF OUR CITIES MAY ALSO NEED TO DO THIS.

  • Anonymous

    JUST RELEASED
    breaking.. philly black mob beats 64 yr old vietnam at random on street SO BRUTALLY THEY ARE charged atempt murder told police THEY BEAT HIM FOR FUN

    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/137679338.html?cmpid=15585797

  • Anonymous

    Segregation is indeed inevitable — that or eventual extermination.

  • Anon

    Their boycotting reminds me of the movie, “Day Without a Mexican.”

    What would you think about a “Day Without an African American?”

    • Anonymous

      HOW ABOUT A LIFETIME WITHOUT AN AFRICAN AMERICAN?

  • Anonymous

    And everyone screeches “racism.”

    That’s kind of like someone saying “Hey stupid!” and someone responding….

  • I have the feeling that the business owners are not all that broken up over a black boycott of the French Quarter.
    Actually, if people were to hear about it, it would probably increase business.