Less than 72 hours following a violent clash with the Krewe of Eris, a 200-person walking krewe in the Marigny, the New Orleans Police Department's 5th District has closed down the ARK building, four blocks from the confrontation, and home of the Iron Rail Book Collective and the Plan B community bike project. The building has been a creative hub for downtown artists and residents, among others, for years — from hosting music events and public meetings to offering safe creative work spaces and public resources. Here's the statement from the Iron Rail's website:
Well, as of Ash Wednesday 2011 we got shut down, along with Plan B Bicycles, Hasbin Willbys, and the dozens of artists, sculptors, printers and other subsistence-level creative folk who worked in the ARK’s upper floors, artists who have little money and nowhere to go.
The Iron Rail was the first library or bookstore to reopen after the failure of the federal levees. Our weekly meetings were always open to all, even our enemies. We worked without pay, and we enjoyed every minute of it. We’re not finished yet.
But the ARK, the crown jewel of the Marigny, is gone. Mourn the ARK. It was a focal point of the downtown arts scene for decades — it was a crucial piece of the city’s creative fabric — and now NOPD has shut it down, just like they shut down the Blue Nile costume sale, just like they arrested brass bands last year, just like they attacked the parade of Eris.
Last night, Gambit emailed the NOPD for a statement on the closure, asking which permits were missing and whether the groups had been given warnings in the past. The NOPD has yet to respond.
4:49 p.m. update:
From NOPD officer Shereese Harper, emphasis ours:
The New Orleans Police Department’s Fifth District received a citizen’s complaint through the office of a City Council member indicating a business at 511 Marigny Street was operating without proper permits issued by the City of New Orleans.
Yesterday, the owner of Iron Rail Book Collectors was advised by the Fifth District Quality of Life officer to close the business until the Revenue Department could determine the status of the business operating licenses. There were no citations issued as a result of the closure, however, the officers issued a verbal warning.
Today, Romy Samuel, the Collector of Revenue, stated that the business does not have active permits for 511 Marigny Street.