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City shuts door on citizens they swore an oath to serve and protect

28th November 2011   ·   0 Comments

‘Mr. Mayor, can we come in?’

Staff Report — The New Orleans chapter of the NAACP and its supporters encountered unanticipated rejection last week as they were denied access to Gallier Hall for Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s announcement of the city’s new crime reduction initiative.

The incident occurred moments after the NAACP held its own press conference outside of Gallier Hall to ask city, local and federal law enforcement authorities to formally investigate whether or not NOPD Super­intendent Ronal Serpas and a city attorney falsified documents that could have impacted his payroll and pension. The issue came to light via Fox8 News reports, and Serpas denies any wrong doing.

Danatus King, president of the local branch of the NAACP expressed disturbance at the city’s refusal to allow the group “peaceful” access to the meeting, which he says was publicized on the City’s website as a public meeting on crime.

Speaking to supporters, reporters and onlookers who were also attempting to enter Gallier hall for the crime reduction initiative and other matters, King went a step further to question how elected officials expect the younger generation to follow the rules “when the people that are elected don’t follow the rules.”

The “rule” at question was whether or not the press conference was a public meeting.

“It was an invitation-only event. We were announcing the plan to reduce murder,” Ryan Berni, press secretary for Mayor Landrieu’s office told The Louisiana Weekly.

As King vented, however, Mayor Mitch Landrieu arrived at Gallier Hall to announce the crime initiative and eased through the crowd without answering questions.

“Mr. Mayor, can we come in?” asked the Rev. Raymond Brown of the National Action Network, but to no avail.

Shortly thereafter, more community leaders and law enforcement officials began to arrive. Among them: Representatives from the Inspector General’s Office, Crime­stoppers, local defense attorneys, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, Jr. and U.S. Attorney Jim Letten who told Rev. Brown, “I’m an invitee, so I’ll find out what I can.”

The group standing outside Gallier Hall began to slowly disband with King saying that the group’s next steps are to plan and organize.

Deputy Mayor Emily Sneed Arata who physically blocked the group from entering Gallier Hall to maintain the focus of the meeting also invited the NAACP to schedule a future meeting with Mayor Lan­drieu.

This article was originally published in the November 28, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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