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Community demands answers from Mayor Mitch Landrieu

18th March 2013   ·   0 Comments

Residents, leaders to remain at City Hall ‘24/7’ until they meet with mayor

A broad coalition of civil rights organizations and community groups that included the New Orleans Branch of the NAACP, SCLC, Safe Streets Strong Communities, The PeaceKeepers, Christian Unity Baptist Church, VOTE and the ACLU had hoped to meet with Mayor Mitch Landrieu Friday at noon at City Hall to discuss what the coalition described as “the recent continued alleged incidents of police profiling; the mayor’s failure to attend the March 5, Louisiana State Senate Committee hearing regarding illegal profiling and the excessive use of force; the concerns raised by the New Orleans Independent Police Monitor relating to a March 1, NOPD e-mail that suggests illegal profiling; the failure of the Mayor to publicly support the recommendations contained in the Independent Police Monitor’s March 12, report relating to NOPD training and illegal profiling.”

Unfortunately, that meeting ne­ver took place. A member of the Landrieu administration informed the coalition that the mayor was not in the office.

One of the last straws in the Black community appears to have been an unflattering report on NOPD reforms by the Independent Police Monitor. Details of that report can be found in a front-page article in this week’s issue of The Louisiana Weekly.

In that article, Susan Hutson, the city’s Independent Police Monitor, is quoted as saying, “We are looking very thoroughly at this issue, This report is important for the people of New Orleans because citizens complain of profiling and unfair targeting regularly…If the NOPD implements our recommendations, it will help to heal the police/community divide on this issue.”

Attorney Danatus King, president of the New Orleans Branch of the NAACP, said Friday that the civil rights organization told the Landrieu administration that it was prepared to meet with the mayor anytime and will remain at City Hall until they meet with the mayor.

“The issue is that the NOPD has been guilty of racial profiling and using illegal, unconstitutional practices in our community and that the mayor has not stopped the NOPD from acting illegally,” King said just before the Weekly went to press Friday. ‘The NAACP, the ACLU, the SCLC, Safe Streets Strong Communities, members of the clergy, and the United States Department of Justice have said the NOPD has been acting illegally. The Independent Police Monitor was on the television last night complaining about a recent e-mail from the NOPD leadership calling for officers to make more stops of people on bicycles especially in ‘hood neighborhoods.’ The Independent Police Monitor was on television letting the community know that the e-mail and the training of the NOPD was causing her concern. Enough is enough!

“The community has come to­gether to demand a meeting with the mayor to let him know he must do something about this problem. Some of the things he must do are: send a clear, written order to the NOPD instructing the NOPD not to send out anymore e-mails or other communications that promote racial profiling; swiftly and publicly discipline any NOPD leader that violates that order, and sign the consent decree that prohibits racial profiling.”

King listed some of the actions and failures by the Landrieu administration that have pushed the community to demand that he and those under his charge be held accountable.

“The mayor did not show up at the State Senate Committee hearing at SUNO last week to discuss the illegal racial profiling and apparent excessive use of force,” Danatus King said. “The mayor did not show up at the meeting today to discuss the illegal racial profiling. We talked to one of his representatives, Julie Reese-Morse. She said the mayor was not there. Representatives from the NAACP, Safe Streets Strong Communities, The PeaceKeepers, The Nation of Islam, Christian Unity Baptist Church, VOTE and other community organizations were present. We told Ms. Reese we will stay at City Hall 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the mayor meets with us. She said the mayor could meet with me and selected others at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in his office. Because this is a true community effort, all of us that were present voted that we would not allow the community to be divided and conquered. We will stick together. We told Ms. Morse that we are ready to meet with the mayor as a community 24 hours a day, seven days a week but if the mayor wants to meet at a specific time and place, we can meet as a community 6 p.m. Monday, March 18, 2013, in the City Council chambers. She said she would talk to the mayor. We are not waiting on the mayor. We will stay at City Hall 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the mayor meets with us. This issue is too important. The community has been ignored too long. We will not be put off.

“As I said, we are staying at City Hall 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the mayor meets with us. We need you to join this fight. Contact one of us … to let us know what shift you will be able to stand watch. We ask that you stand watch for at least two hours but if you only have five minutes that’s OK. If you want, just come when you can. Bring your own water and snacks and anything else you might need to help you pass the time as you keep watch. After 5 p.m. we might be outside so bring your own chairs, sleeping bags, etc. We want to be able to send out e-mails, FaceBook blasts, Twitter blasts and every other kind of blast so we can get the community to City Hall whenever the mayor shows up and agrees to meet with us. Please pass this information to all your pastors, church members, FaceBook, Twit­ter and e-mail contacts.”

The Landrieu administration could not be reached for comment before The Louisiana Weekly went to press.

This article originally published in the March 18, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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