by Kevin Allman
In the latest of a series of publicly-driven meetings to address the issue of crime in the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny, a group calling itself M.O.M. (Meeting of the Minds) will be holding a press conference Thursday morning to present petitions to local, state, and national officials demanding action on public safety.
What's different about these petitions than some others that have come before is the signatories: they're not individual citizens, but representatives from some 13 French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny neighborhood groups, including the French Quarter Business Association, North Rampart Main Street, Lower Quarter Crime Watch, Upper Quarter Neighborhood Watch, the French Market Corporation, the French Quarter Businesswomen's Network, and the Bourbon Street Merchant's Association. M.O.M. describes itself as "a coalition of French Quarter and Marigny Triangle business and residential organizations and concerned citizens working together for the common purpose of obtaining an increased level of public safety services in the French Quarter and Marigny Triangle for residents, businesses and visitors."
According to M.O.M. organizer and French Quarter resident Chuck Ransdell, the groups will also be presenting a public letter addressed to Gov. Bobby Jindal. "We are asking for troops," Ransdell says. "State police, whatever he's got." Copies of the petitions will also be delivered to Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, along with Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao.
"We specifically don't want to talk to the police or the politicians until we've made our demands," Ransdell added. "But we're not taking pitchforks and chasing Frankenstein through the burning window; we're not trying to be adversarial."
The press conference is geared specifically toward members of the media , but Ransdell says that the public will be invited. It begins at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the Esplanade Room at the Omni Royal Orleans in the French Quarter, and may draw some national attention (two sources said CNN is expected to send a crew).
This is just the latest in a series of citizen-led anti-crime meetings to be held in the French Quarter and Marigny. Last night, a monthly gathering of French Quarter citizens turned heated, and tonight the group United for Peace will hold another memorial at the corner of Dauphine and Gov. Nicholls streets, where the popular Quarter bartender Wendy Byrne was murdered Jan. 17. This Saturday at noon, Lower Quarter Citizens Against Crime will be holding a noon meeting at Buffa's (1001 Esplanade Ave.), which will be attended by NOPD Chief Warren Riley, and another group will be holding a private meeting (closed to the press and public officials) in the Marigny later that afternoon.