1. Weezyana returns
After reuniting most of the Hot Boys at his inaugural 2015 edition, rapper Lil Wayne's Lil' Weezyana Fest concert returns to New Orleans Saturday, Aug. 27 at Champions Square. This year, Wayne will perform with 2 Chainz (the duo collaborated for 2016's Collegrove, the Atlanta rapper's third album, and they also appear on Chance The Rapper's latest "No Problem").
At last year's event, in tandem with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods, Wayne brought out Ms. Tee, Big Freedia, 5th Ward Weebie, Curren$y, Mack Maine, Master P, Mia X and Wayne's Young Money superstar Drake, among many others.
Wayne reportedly has suffered several seizures in recent months, including a "false alarm" in Las Vegas earlier this month.
2. Quote of the week
"The whole event was very peaceful. They sort of carried her off. She wasn't resisting; she was making her stand." — New Orleans photographer Jonathan Bachman on his Reuters photo of Ieshia Evans, a protester in Baton Rouge, being arrested by Louisiana State Police.
The image was picked up around the world, in part because of the contrast in their clothing; the police were dressed in full RoboCop-style riot gear, while Evans wore a long dress and had bare arms. The Atlantic compared the photo to the famous image of a lone protester facing down Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Bachman, a Gambit contributor, said the cops were respectful as they arrested Evans: "I've had people ask me, 'Well, why are police in full riot gear and this woman's just in a dress?' Well, five officers were killed in Dallas just the night before."
3. ACLU vs. Baton Rouge cops
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana (ACLU) has sued Baton Rouge cops and city and state officials, alleging they violated the First Amendment rights of protestors and used "excessive force, physical and verbal abuse, and wrongful arrests" as demonstrators faced law enforcement in the wake of the shooting deaths of black men by police. Black Youth Project 100, the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice, Together Baton Rouge and the Louisiana chapter of the National Lawyers Guild also joined the lawsuit filed July 13.
More than 200 people were arrested in Baton Rouge this month during protests against police brutality in the wake of the shooting death of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge Police officers July 5. Social media captured the scope of local and state police response, including armored cars, gas masks, long guns and a "military-grade assault on protestors' bodies and rights," according to the lawsuit. The ACLU also requested a temporary restraining order to prevent police "from interfering with people's constitutionally protected right to gather peacefully moving forward."
4. Louisiana pols in Dallas, D.C.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu and New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison traveled to Dallas last week for an interfaith service in honor of the five police officers who were slain July 7 at a peace march in downtown Dallas. Meanwhile, Gov. John Bel Edwards, Louisiana State Police Chief Michael Edmonson and Urban League President (and former New Orleans mayor) Marc Morial went to the White House July 13 for a three-and-a-half hour round table with President Barack Obama, after which several dozen people discussed police and community relations. "We can support our police officers better," Edwards told the news media afterward. "We can support the minor-ity community better."
5. Pot arrests disproportionately high for African-Americans
New Orleans police arrested black people for marijuana at "stubbornly high" rates from 2010 through 2015, according to a July report from the Vera Institute of Justice. The report examined arrests for pot possession with intent to distribute (a felony) as well as simple possession. At the time, simple possession was a misdemeanor for first- and second-time offenses and a felony for subsequent offen- ses. The New Orleans City Council recently passed a measure making all simple possession cases misdemeanors; the report mirrors the City Council's analysis of pot arrests prior to its passage of the new law, which the New Orleans Police Department put into effect last month.
The report found that while rates of marijuana use are similar across all races, 85 percent of people arrested for simple possession in New Orleans are black, and 94 percent of people arrested for felony simple possession are black. The report also notes the toll the criminal justice system takes on people who were arrested — people with felony pot arrests spent an average of 14 days in jail before trial at a cost of more than $1,400 a person. But in 2014 and 2015, the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office charged fewer than 60 percent of the people with felony arrests; cases were dismissed or lowered to misdemeanors. "Racial disparity in policing — regardless of the causes — means that black members of our community too often face harsh and destabilizing criminal justice system involvement," Jon Wool, director of Vera's New Orleans office and co-author of the report, said in a statement.
6. A 'cultural master plan'?
The Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MACCNO) is urging the city to include a chapter for protecting cultural activity in its comprehensive Master Plan, and for the creation of a community-driven Cultural Master Plan to further protect and empower the cultural community.
"The City of New Orleans needs to get serious about protecting and supporting its music and culture," a MACCNO statement reads. "For most of the City's history, cultural activity has been treated as a problem that needs to be managed, rather than an asset to be nurtured. ... We need to ensure that cultural protections — not regulations — are enshrined throughout all aspects of city government, and the planning process in particular." Visit www.maccno.org for more information.
7. 'Freret Jet' returns
In September, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) will restore the "Freret Jet" bus route from Uptown to Canal Street. The RTA cut the line in 2013 with the opening of the Loyola Avenue streetcar, stopping the Freret bus at Union Passenger Terminal instead of Canal Street, with riders having to use the streetcar to continue the route. The restored route loops from Loyola to O'Keefe Avenue to Canal Street, then back down Baronne and Freret streets.
8. Lawsuit: take down Andrew Jackson
Tulane University professor Richard Marksbury argues that if four local Confederate monuments come down, then Andrew Jackson's statue in Jackson Square also must come down. Marksbury, who made this point in front of the New Orleans City Council as a protest against the city's use of the "nuisance" ordinance to take down the monuments, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court this month arguing equal protection under the law should prevent any of the statues from coming down.
The city isn't taking anything down yet because the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a stay order pending judicial review of a lower court's decision allowing the removals.
9. 91% documentary to screen at Tulane
New Orleans director John Richie's acclaimed documentary 91%: A Film About Guns in America will screen at Tulane University's Lavin-Bernick Center July 21, followed by a panel discussion featuring Richie, Jake Lundy of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Rev. Willie Muhammad of New Orleans Peace Keepers, Martha Alguerra of Moms Demand Action and others. Presale tickets are $10 and are available at www.91percentfilm.com.
10. Presidential debates set
With the Republican National Convention set to kick off in Cleveland July 18-21 and the Democrats set to convene in Philadelphia July 25-28, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CBD) has announced the three dates for the general election debates between presumptive nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The two will face off in Dayton, Ohio on Monday, Sept. 26; St. Louis, Missouri on Sunday, Oct. 9; and in Las Vegas Wednesday, Oct. 19. The St. Louis matchup will be structured as a town hall meeting with audience participation. The presidential election is Tuesday, Nov. 8.