Mayoral candidate Frank Scurlock, who was excluded from tomorrow's town hall forum for declared mayoral candidates hosted by Indivisible NOLA, has accused organizers of "reverse racism" for not inviting him to the event. (Scurlock is white; the invited candidates, Michael Bagneris, LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet, all are black.)
"Are the Indivisible New Orleans decision-makers petty elitists and snobs?" Scurlock said in a statement. "Their action smacks of the worst kind of reverse racism and will only further divide New Orleans voters."
Indivisible NOLA founder Joyce Vansean responded, "We as an organization do not believe that reverse racism exists."
Scurlock is a colorful businessman who often wears a top hat and whose slogan is "Let's Make New Orleans Fun Again!" He runs a successful party rental business and attempted to revive the now-abandoned Six Flags amusement park site in New Orleans East, and is the person who paid for the skywriting of positive messages over the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for the last few years. Last month, he was arrested at the site of the former Jefferson Davis memorial in Mid-City after an altercation with a New Orleans police officer.
Like the three candidates who were invited to the forum, Scurlock is a registered Democrat. In a statement last month, he touted himself as "a vocal preservationist against of the removal of four New Orleans monuments dedicated to the history of the Confederacy."
That seems to be, at least in part, why Indivisible NOLA did not invite him to the group's forum.
"We stand by our original statement that his public announcement of his objection to removing the monuments — and other statements — is not in line with our values," Vansean told Gambit. "We felt he harassed a black police officer, demanded privilege and then cried reverse racism when he was arrested. We support Take 'em Down NOLA's effort to remove the monuments."
"How could Indivisible New Orleans determine that I am not a progressive candidate," Scurlock said in a statement. "Like them, I am a Democrat who understands what New Orleans needs to create jobs and help our economy grow. I am willing to invest my time, energy and financial resources to make that happen."
In an opinion piece posted last night, Uptown Messenger columnist Danae Columbus quoted Scurlock as saying the exclusion was "all racial" and added, "A better-informed perspective then leads to creative problem solving. Perhaps [Indivisible NOLA] should adopt that same philosophy."
Scurlock has said he plans to formally kick off his campaign in early July.
Qualifying for the New Orleans mayoral race will take place July 12-14. The primary will be held Oct. 14, with a runoff (if necessary) Nov. 18.