by Kevin Allman
At the blog Library Chronicles, proprietor Jeffrey raises a good question, to wit: If the NOPD was getting serious about cracking down on ordinances equally and fairly during Mardi Gras, why did St. Charles Avenue look like a cross between a refugee camp and an explosion at Home Depot?
It's a great question. I was at the press conference where both Mayor Mitch Landrieu and NOPD chief Ronal Serpas said that under no circumstances would this be allowed (Danny Monteverde's story in the T-P was even subheded "Neutral ground hogs put on notice"):
"Certainly the neutral grounds are public spaces. Neutral grounds are not private spaces," Serpas said. "And to move your living room furniture, your dining room furniture and your bedroom furniture to the neutral ground to try to hold a place for Mardi Gras is not acceptable and we're gonna make sure you (re)move it."
Over the years, Endymion typically has attracted revelers who stake out spots and set up sofas, tents and ladders along the Mid-City parade route days before the parade rolls.
"You now know that if you go out to Orleans Avenue and rope off an acre and you bring your living room, somebody's gonna move it," Landrieu said.
So ... what happened? It's not an idle or a "gotcha" question — I've talked to two friends who were threatened for walking through someone's "space" on St. Charles this year. So ladders, police tape, tents, and "dining room tables" (the mayor got a laugh with that example) aren't just a pain: they provoke belligerence, territoriality, selfishness and potential violence.
I don't think anyone cares about a ladder set back from the street with an excited little kid on top of it, properly supervised. But tent cities and the like seemed to be order of the day on much of St. Charles this year. Did you notice it was any worse than previous years?