The Facebook page for an anti-crime rally scheduled to be held in Jackson Square on Jan. 6, the evening that the Carnival season kicks off in New Orleans.
A Facebook-organized anti-crime rally is scheduled to be held Jan. 6 — the first night of Carnival season — in Jackson Square, but representatives for the city say that organizers haven't applied for permits for the rally.
The rally was announced last week on a Facebook page
by organizer Helen Landry:
Violent crime is on the rise in the French Quarter and it needs to stop now! Join us at a public rally in Jackson Square to send a loud & clear message to Mayor Landrieu, Councilwoman Ramsey and Police Chief Michael Harrison that WE'RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT anymore!
We don't want to become a vigiliante city. We want the city leadership and NOPD to step up and take back control of our streets before we lose tourists and before any more residents are mugged, injured or killed.
Stand up and let your voice be heard on Twelfth Night: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! We demand to live in a safer city by Mardi Gras!
"I have no beef with anyone," Landry wrote in an email to Gambit
in response to a query. "I just want safer streets."
Crime has been on the mind of Quarter residents lately. Though Mayor Mitch Landrieu touted a reduction in killings in New Orleans in 2014 at his year-end press conference last week, violent crime has not taken a similar downturn, and December saw a number of high-profile violent crimes in and around the French Quarter. Landrieu has asked Gov. Bobby Jindal to send more state patrol power to help keep the French Quarter safe.
A little more than a week ago, signs began appearing in the French Quarter warning visitors, "Caution: Walk in large groups. We [heart] the NOPD. We just need more." Louisiana State Police officers, which were dispatched to help patrol the Quarter during New Year's and Sugar Bowl festivities, left their special post Jan. 4.
Tourism officials sounded a neutral note about the signage. "I certainly respect their right to express their opinion, and I understand their frustration, but also I'm aware of the active recruiting being done by the police department," Mark Romig, president of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, told Gambit
. "But there is a tone on the signs that says 'We love the police,' and certainly the mayor and the police department have heard that."
The NOPD 8th District's weekly newsletter, which was sent out Jan. 5, listed several traditional Mardi Gras kickoff events in the downtown area (including Landrieu's annual ceremonial cutitng of a king cake, as well as the traditional Joan of Arc Twelfth Night parade in the French Quarter), but carried no information about the rally.
An inquiry about organizers' permitting practices and any extra police presence for the event was sent to NOPD's public information officers last week and was routed through the city's "one-stop shop" for permitting.
Tonight, Landrieu communications director Garnesha Crawford sent an email to Gambit
saying, "No applications have been filed at this time with the Department of Safety and Permits for an anti-crime march in the French Quarter on Twelfth Night."
The rally is scheduled to begin in Jackson Square Jan. 6 at 5 p.m. directly in front of St. Louis Cathedral. Nearly 250 people have RSVP'd on Facebook to say they'll be coming.