The Louisiana Justice Institute is sending what attorney Tracie Washington says are testers of the 8pm curfew. The New Orleans City Council approved an ordinance that took effect Monday banning unaccompanied minors from gathering in the French Quarter and parts of nearby Frenchmen Street. Supporters say it's aimed at protecting children from violent crime. Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed the ordinance, and backs another pending change that will make the 8pm curfew effective citywide.The new law comes in the context of a long history of racial discrimination in the French Quarter. On New Year’s Eve in 2004, nine months before Hurricane Katrina hit, bouncers in the Bourbon Street club Razzoo’s killed a Black college student named Levon Jones. The outrage led to near-daily protests outside the club, threats of a Black tourist boycott of the city and a mayor’s commission to explore the issue of racism in the French Quarter. Despite widely publicized advance warning, a “secret shopper” audit of the Quarter, conducted by Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, found rampant discrimination in local businesses. Bars had different dress codes, admission charges and drink prices—all based on whether the patron was Black or white.
Washington says "testers" are African-American males 17 years old or more who, she says, have a constitutional right to assemble in the area - even without identification. Neither Landrieu nor Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas could be reached for comment. Washington says a boycott she announced last week for the French Quarter to begin on Martin Luther King Day is now being reviewed.
Many in New Orleans are still upset that City Council President Jackie Clarkson recently spoke fondly of the New Orleans of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and expressed her hope that the city was returning to the "glory" of that era. When Black residents of New Orleans East complained, she refused to apologise, and simply added that one of her father's "best friends" was Black, adding, "My father never built a white playground without building a black playground."