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The City Council is holding a Community Development Committee meeting on Wednesday, September 3rd, at 4pm, to discuss Ordinance 30,273. There were several concerns expressed by 2 or 3 members of the council at the last regular meeting regarding this ordinance. The ordinance will also be on the agenda of the regular council meeting on Thursday, September 4th. WE need WE THE PEOPLE to come out for these meetings and express their outrage at this attempt to limit our free speech and right to assembly. (The proposed ordinance is linked to below).

If you are wondering why we should all be concerned with this ordinance, here are some reasons:

1. The language expressed is this ordinance is broad and basically attacks the rights of free speech and the right to assembly, unless an event is permitted. Since most protests, rallies and marches are not permitted (I have never gotten a permit for any event), this ordinance could be used to disrupt our free speech activities, on any issue, including environmental issues.

2. This ordinance attacks the right of homeless people to set up tents and have their belongings with them. Just the other night, the police notified the homeless living in tents under the I-10 at Camp that they would be evicted without notice. It was only because of efforts from a few defenders of the homeless and an attorney, along with contacts with the media, that this effort was defeated. The NOPD felt emboldened, because clearly, the Landrieu administration is behind any group effort, and endorses the attempt to make the homeless invisible. Yes, neighborhood associations such as the Coliseum Square Neighborhood Association is involved in efforts to make the homeless invisible. But clearly, the Landrieu administration is behind these efforts and endorses them, as it was Landrieu administration representatives that defended the ordinance at the last City Council meeting.

3. Last, but certainly not least, this ordinance takes square aim at street entertainers in Jackson Square, and potentially everywhere in the city. It would require a 20 foot “clear lane” between people and the buildings of Jackson Square, which everyone knows, especially on a weekend, would be almost impossible to enforce without heavy handedness from law enforcement. Street entertainers anywhere that could be seen as “blocking sidewalks” and public right of ways could be the target of this ordinance.

This is an effort, in my view, by the administration, to obstruct the right to free speech and assembly, since increasingly free speech assemblies have been critical of administration policies, particularly regarding the NOPD. In addition, it is an effort that occurs every year in time for the Saints season, to “clean up” areas under the overpass. In other words, get rid of the homeless. Make them invisible.

We need folks to come out for these two meetings and voice their opposition to these attempts to deny our right to the commons, the streets of New Orleans, that belong to all of us.– Elizabeth Cook


Reposting this because it’s important and was sent out in an email blast.