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Letters to the Editor

South Africa in Treme

Stopping a Second Line' by Katy Reckdahl (May 3) is a great article, as it gives exposure to the South African atmosphere that currently exists for blacks in that area of Treme. It is truly a community under police duress. Gambit has recently done articles/editorials suggesting dialogue take place on race and human relationships in this city. Those need to happen yesterday, and voices other than those old hands need to be stakeholders in the process.

Officers who have racist opinions that are enforced against African Americans under the color of law should be removed from patrolling the streets of a 95 percent African-American community where second lines are a part of daily life that should not be interfered with as a natural cultural phenomena associated with being African American in New Orleans. I grew up dancing in the streets of Treme without being told I could not be myself as a person of African descent. I was never told I could not be who I am and would never submit to anyone who would deny me or any other concerned African-American citizen, both in Treme and citywide. We are who we are. All this, while racism is rampant in the NOPD.

Minister Randal Mitchell

A Growing Crisis

Bravo to Katy Reckdahl for a well-researched story that highlights a growing crisis in policing ('Stopping a Second Line,' May 3). Gambit should be commended for supporting this kind of reporting.

NOPD officers have been increasingly confrontational with second liners this year, as I have observed personally during numerous Sunday afternoon parades. I am referring in particular to the use of deafening sirens to clear an area after parades and the use of police cars to force second liners to move more quickly and to drown out the music of brass bands during the parades. This is happening at events for which clubs have a permit and in which they are paying for police details.

Please consider a follow-up on the police investigation and the broader issue of policing black working-class cultural traditions such as Mardi Gras Indians, second-line parades and jazz funerals. I believe the situation will not be resolved without a systematic examination of NOPD policy toward black street traditions. The position of police officers is no doubt difficult and frustrating, but current policing strategies are causing resentment and a growing anger in the community.

Helen Regis

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