Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Orleans Police Attack Mardi Gras Parade

On Sunday night, at least 20 officers descended on a Mardi Gras parade, arresting twelve costumed marchers, and repeatedly deploying tasers, pepper spray, and physical violence. The parade, which consisted of local artists and other neighborhood residents, as well as quite a few tourists, began as a stunning display of the artistic talent found in the Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods, and ended in a violent nightmare when NOPD officers rushed into the peaceful crowd.

With arrests and beatings spread across several blocks in the Marigny, details are still being compiled by witnesses, including several lawyers and other legal workers who were in the crowd, many of whom took pictures and video. At least one young woman was arrested for photographing the scene, and witnesses reported that they saw officers erasing pictures from her camera. Another video, posted on youtube, shows one officer threatening and appearing to strike someone who was filming the scene.

New Orleans Slate, a local blog, posted a detailed and powerful report yesterday. Below are some highlights:
My husband...saw one cop baiting one kid, trying very hard it seemed to get the kid to swing at him, when the kid did nothing, the cop grabbed him and took him anyway then hit him with his baton. He saw cops tazing people left and right, he heard that it had started back at Franklin, but by the time they got to St. Ferdinand it was in full swing. The police were also using mace by this time. One guy, carrying a guitar case turned to the cops as if asking why they were doing this. He was wearing glasses. The cop grabbed him with one hand and maced him right in the face behind his glasses with the other. My husband said he could see it foaming behind his glasses. His friends tried to help him when he went down, trying to rinse his eyes out with water. They all got tazed. Tazers and mace were used liberally. My husband saw clouds of mace and was caught in it. At Press Street a cop told my husband not to turn around, saying, "Anyone who turns around gets arrested. I don't want to see faces, I want to see backs."

...As the cops became more aggressive, the people in the parade began to defend themselves, not by throwing anything but by trying to run, or put their hands over their heads to protect their skulls. This caused the tazing and macing to begin, which of course, threw more fear into the mix which caused stampeding and a lot of people being knocked down...

I'm certainly not going to try to say that no one in the parade might have caused a problem. People join in along the way. There is no set membership with wristbands, there is no parade security. Nevertheless, I've seen this parade many times before and it's pure joy and whimsy. These are delivery people and artists and musicians and young families. (I am hoping that none of the kids I saw in wagons, strollers and on parents' hips were hurt in all this.) NOPD's behavior was absolutely contrary to trying to maintain peace. It appeared that they were spoiling for a fight. It's what I saw. It's all in the attitude.
One of the paraders who was arrested wrote a detailed account that was posted on New Orleans' Indymedia website, a first-hand statement that depicts officers boasting of the beatings they delivered:
One arrestee had a broken cheekbone and a large, matted bloody wound on the back of his head from being beaten with a police baton. Later, this injury would require surgical staples. On the wall where we were kneeling, there was a growing bloodstain behind his head where his injury had bled onto the drywall. "He's bleeding," said another of the arrestees. "Officer, that man needs medical attention."

"I say you could speak? Shut the fuck up," the officer currently watching us replied. A couple of the arrestees had earlier been demanding lawyers, and he had told them to shut the fuck up too. He was big on that phrase...

An officer walked in cradling his hand and smiling. "You need hospital?" The silence-oriented officer asked him.

"Yeah, I'm going in a minute," said the officer with the wounded hand. "I knocked motherfuckers tonight, tell you what."
The Times Picayune also delivered a solid initial report of the incident, including this closing statement that says a lot about the damage this police behavior does to our city:
Colleen Tucker, of Flagstaff, Ariz., who was in town visiting a friend, said she saw 14 police cars at the Marigny intersection. Tucker said a melee broke out between marchers and officers. Tucker said she spoke to some police who told her vandalism to police cruisers provoked the fighting. "We saw no violence directed at police," she said.

Tucker, a tourist, was leaving for home Monday. "This was my last impression of New Orleans," she said.


Anonymous said...

The NOPD is just stupid. What used to be a joke pre K is now a full blown sitcom...

Anonymous said...

First hand account of the parade and the arrests, especially the police's out of control behavior, from someone who was arrested:


michael patrick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jason said...

This group admits to doing damage to other peoples property, not having a parade permit, and breaking laws. And they claim innocence. The person who wrote the five page account remembered every detail, except names of officers involved. He/She used the F and MF words so often that I wonder if they can speak witout profanity.

This points to the so called "bohemians" belief that they have the right to do as they please. It's a shame that the true artists who come to New Orleans are wrongly associated with them.

Anonymous said...

Begging your pardon Jason, but we alegedly live in a "Free Country."

Is not having a permit a reason to tase, pepperspray, batter with clubs, and commit other acts of violence against citizens of New Orleans?
Not having a permit isn't even a criminal offense, it is a civil offense.

I'll tell you what Jason; the next time you committ a civil offense (not have your license on you while driving, dropping a gum wrapper, leaving your trash cans at the street curb for too long on trash day, ect...) we'll see how you like it when the cops pepperspray and beat your head in...

Lawyer Social Marketing said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
zack said...

This incredibly one sided propagandist report further inflames what appears to be actions knowingly taken by local folks who were looking for exactly what they got. Reports are they did last year too, with similar results. The group's leadership knew what they were going for.
There were over 20 other parades, with anywhere from 400 to 1,500 riders, over a 2 week period, meaning almost 100,000 participants, and a million parade watchers, without a hitch! This small group of troublemakers leaves a lousy taste in everyone's mouth, including those few who deservedly got tazed. Get a friggin permit you idiots - this is not anarchy. We are all overcoming huge obstacles, with great success. Remember, "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem."

Brian Opert
Radio Host - WGSO 990 am