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Defender Picks



May 30th

Down on Their Luck Orchestra

Music at the Mint, 2PM

Jazz at the Old U.S. Mint


Craft Happy Hour

Ogden, 6PM

Learn to make paper magnolias with Suzonne Stirling


Vibrational Sound Therapy

Glitter Box, 6PM

Discover the energetic magic of Himalayan Singing Bowls with Faun Fenderson


Monty Banks

Mahogany Jazz Hall, 6PM

Trad Jazz, rat pack era swing and more



Peristyle in City Park, 6:30PM

High Intensity Interval Training



Champions Square, 7PM

Feat. O.A.R. and Natasha Bedingfield


Gender 101

LGBT Community Center, 7PM

Expand your understanding of gender


Thinkin' with Lincoln

Bayou Beer Garden, 7PM

Trivia on the patio


Spring Wrap-Up Show

Arts Estuary 1024, 8PM

Performances and screenings by the artist residents


High Profile

Hi-Ho Lounge, 10PM

NOLA drag stars host a variety talent show, The Stage


May 31st

Abe Thompson

Market Café, 3:30PM

Feat. The Doctors of Funk


Food Waste Collection

Children’s Resource Center, 5PM

Bring your frozen food scraps to be composted


Weird Wine Wednesdays

Spirit Wine, 6PM

Free wine tasting


Free Spirited Yoga

The Tchoup Yard, 6:30PM

Food, drinks, yoga


CeCe Winans

Orpheum Theater, 7PM

Part of the “Let Them Fall In Love” tour


Dance for Bathrooms

Three Keys, 8PM

Benefitting Music Box Village


Rooftop Cinema

Catahoula Hotel, 8PM

A showing of But I’m A Cheerleader


Major Bacon

Banks St. Bar, 10PM

Sizzlin blues and free BLTs


Caleb Ryan Martin

Check Point Charlie, 11PM

Acoustic blues and roots


June 1st

Jazz in The Park

Armstrong Park, 4PM

Jon Clearly + the Absolute Monster Gentlemen


Book Signing

Garden District Book Shop, 6PM

Signing of My Love Looks Back by Jessica B. Harris


Mardi Gras Concert

Tipitina’s, 6PM

Benefitting Marty Hurley Endowment Center


Summer Of Sustainability

Aquarium Of The Americas, 630PM

Enjoy oysters in a unique setting


Magical Burlesque

The Willow, 7PM

Harry Potter themed burlesque show


Bonnie Bishop

One Eyed Jack’s, 9PM

Sweet country rock



14 Parishes, 9PM

Roasts, toasts and laughs


Una Walkonhorst

The Circle Bar, 930PM

Also feat. Patrick Sylvester


Lost Stars

Balcony Music Club, 11PM

Support by Mighty Brother 



June 2nd

Symphony Book Fair

Lakefront Arena, 9AM

Benefitting the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra


Summer Kick Off Film Party

Second Line Stages, 5PM

Supporting BREASTS the film


Nateus Photography Opening

Cherry Espresso Bar, 6PM

Photos as a medium of self expression, snacks included


Dinner and a ZOOvie

Audubon Zoo, 6PM

Showing of the movie Moana


Self Absorbed


A peek inside fifteen artists


Lagniappe Performance Series

Loyola Univeristy @ Marquette Hall, 7PM

Performance by Mikhala W. Iversen


As One

Marigny Opera House, 8PM

A transgender musical odyssey


Joel Wilson

The Building, 9PM

Also featuring Simon Lott as Context Killer



Blue Nile, 11PM

GoGo Brass Funk band 



June 3rd

Grand Opening Party

Parleaux Beer Lab, 11AM

Pouring on all 12 taps


Water Words

New Orleans Public Library, 11AM

Exploring the special role of water in our city and in life


Basics of Beekeeping

Hollygrove Market, 1PM

Learn how to start your own apiary


First Saturday Gallery Openings

Arts District, 6PM

Check out new and returning exhibitions


Harrison Avenue Stroll

Harrison Avenue, 5PM

Food, drinks, fun


Louisiana Wetlands

Carol Robinson Gallery, 5PM

Original art by Dave Ivey


Moonlit Paddle

Manchec Swamp, 545PM

Enjoy an evening of paddling close to home


Final Gala Concert

Jazz and Heritage Center, 8PM

Closing out the Birdfoot Festival


Canine Karaoke

Homedale Inn Bar, 9PM

Supporting the Love A Pit Foundation



Poor Boys Bar, 12AM

Resident DJs, along with special guest


June 4th

June Puppy Social

Louisiana SPCA, 10AM

Toys, treats, low impact agility


Jazz Brunch

Josephine Estelle, 11AM

Live sounds served sunny side up



The Drifter Hotel, 12PM

Presented by Techno Club


Book Discussion

Garden District Book Shop, 12PM

C.D. Colins discusses her memoir


Summer Reading Kick Off

NOPL Youth Services, 1PM

Feat. Roots music and books by Johnette Downing


Saving Abel

Southport Music Hall, 6PM

With support by Akadia and First Fracture


Open Mic and Slam

Ashé Cac, 7PM

Team SNO + Jahman Hill


Edge Film Festival

Zeitgeist Center, 730PM

Short film screenings + awards


Frontier Ruckus

Gasa Gasa, 9PM

Enjoy some multi genre rock

Force-ing the Issues?

Behind the Feds' NOPD Report with New Orleans' Indepedent Police Monitor

Upon release of the scathing U.S. Department of Justice report on the widespread faults of the New Orleans Police Department, Mayor Mitch Landrieu commented that no one in the room seemed shocked.


Not only have citizens personally witnessed the NOPD's abuses of power, they have recently seen action against a few of the Department's failings. For instance, in one of the less heralded sections of the report, the authors take the NOPD to task for mismanagement of its canine unit. When that finding was shared with the NOPD Brass, the Department's canine cops were halted


Still, at the heart of what the report -- and the city administration that called for it - is asking for, there lies the necessity of a seismic cultural shift in police officers' attitudes and ways of conducting business. Undertaking that change is likely to involve not only acknowledgement of the problems, but a willingness to uproot practices that have become ingrained in the force over decades, as the report indicates. To offer a better understanding of the process that lies ahead, NoDef spoke with Susan Hutson, New Orleans' Independent Police Monitor. Since coming to New Orleans from Los Angeles - another city with a history of a troubled police force - Hutson has been taking a look at department practices and individual cases. But with a small staff of three, it's clear that the NOPD leadership will be required to shoulder some of the policing of the police if any real change is to come about.


Use of Force

The DOJ report said officers "routinely use unnecessary and unreasonable force in violation of the Constitution and NOPD policy." Without even considering the multiple instances where officers are accused in connection with deaths, the DOJ said police brutality continues to run amok around the NOPD. While the widespread violations, which involve police shootings, and deliberate retaliations against arrested subjects, are individual actions taken by officers, Hutson said the Departments policies have long been unclear about where the limits are. 
"Just looking at the taser part of the [existing] policy; It says, 'Yeah, you can taser a handcuffed prisoner if they are actively resisting or trying to escape.' And, its like, 'Woah! that gives a lot of leeway there,'" Hutson said. "You need to define that. You need to specify which parts of the body. Because right now, it looks like you can taser people who just won't put their hands behind their back. And, I don't think that's what tasering is supposed to be for."
The report calls for a complete rewrite of the policy, and Hutson says that's happening right now. But an even more imposing shadow could be cast if the DOJ implements a more thorough system of reviewing all incidents in which officers used unnecessary force - especially when they fire their gun or use a taser. Right now, Hutson said her office is doing most of that work. Her office is already on the scene when officers discharge a weapon, or at other "critical events," as she called them. There, the monitors preserve evidence - a direct response to the alleged manipulations of police reports that occurred on the Danziger Bridge and surrounding the death of Henry Glover after Hurricane Katrina - and oversee investigative procedures. But that work - along with formally punishing officers who are found to be in the wrong - needs to be done within the police department itself, the DOJ report said.


"We need to adjudicate and review uses of force better and more thoroughly because I don't think that's being done right now," she said. "Lots of times, officers are not even reporting use of force, and we can't have that. They have to be reported, thoroughly investigated, thoroughly reviewed, and disciplined if appropriate."
Another of the DOJ's major findings focused on the what was described as the NOPD's widespread practice of pulling over victims and searching them without cause, and in violation of the Fourth Amendment's probable cause against unreasonable searches and seizures. The report said the heart of this practice was not simply left to the officers alone, but also a Department-wide focus on statistics, which "encourages stops without reasonable suspicion, illegal pat downs, and arrests without probable cause."
The stops aren't completely at random. Since taking the helm, Serpas has trumpeted Terry stops as an effective way to catch criminals who remain at-large. Justification for this vein of stops comes from a 1968 Supreme Court decision, police are allowed to pull over vehicles if they have reasonable suspicion that someone has or is about to commit a crime. In public information releases about arrests that result from the stops - like that of infamous gang member Elton Brand - Serpas almost always points out their effectiveness, and the volume of the stops is repeatedly heralded at Department COMSTAT meetings - where Department leaders review statistics and various crimefighting metrics.  But the DOJ report says the Department's reliance on stat-generating stops does not necessarily result in safer streets. "Detached as it is from problem-oriented policing, community partnerships or long-term strategies, there is no indication that NOPD's emphasis on arrests results in better crime prevention or safer communities," the report says.
Upon her arrival, Hutson said she had a similar experience.
When I first got here, I went to COMSTAT couple of times, and listened to Commanders when they get up...they were asked by the deputy chiefs, 'Hey, we got people on the street, what are we doing, are we stopping people?', And the Captain said 'We're stopping everything in sight,'" she said. "And, I thought, 'Woah! That can't even be remotely legal!'"
Hutson said she and Serpas agreed to increase officer training, and Serpas has since spoken in public repeatedly about "selling the stop." This means requiring officers to articulate why they are being pulled over. 
"When I go to the doctor, I like it a whole lot more when the doctor tells me what's about to happen," Serpas said on the topic at a City Council meeting yesterday. 
Hutson is also planning to review the stops that are made for patterns herself. The requirements that are passed down from the feds are also likely to have limits contained about how many people can be stopped, and further requirements about an always-looming issue for police forces across the country - racial profiling.
"You need to be conducting consensual stops, but you also need to be doing LEGAL terry stops. There is a purpose to them," Hutson said. "They were able to do this in L.A. and really cut back on gangland murders and shootings. I think they can work, but they need to be done legally, and not in a pattern of racial profiling."
Biased policing isn't only a concern going forward when it comes to pulling people over. The DOJ report features a long section that details patterns of police discrimination toward not only blacks, but also women, Latinos,  lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgendered people, and even teenagers. Making changes in those areas have a lot to do with previously-held prejudices, which are ingrained in people's minds. But the report indicates that changing the police's beliefs isn't the only matter at play. The DOJ says one of the sources of discrimination is a "deep distrust and sense of alienation" that groups who face discrimination report.


Within the LGBT community, Hutson said there is currently a lack of data to work with to address the concerns.
"In the outreach we've done so far, members of this community are very reluctant to even say the name of officers that they've had bad encounters with, you know, they are afraid to say very much of anything that we can use," she said.  "But they have started talking to us."
The changes that the DOJ will implement are again likely to involve a systemic change. In order to engage with the communities, the NOPD will have to create programs and strategies that go beyond the "superficial" community policing initiatives the report says they currently have. (The report also points out that Serpas' 65-point plan to transform the NOPD involves more community policing than in the past, but the effects were unable to be gauged when the report was released because the programs are new.) Hutson also envisions a large role for the police monitor in stopping discrimination by conducting audits that look at the specific factors that contribute to discrimination.
"It won't just be someone saying 'It's fixed,' we'll be able to show it," she said.
Consent Decree 

The report's daunting list of issues in need of correction inherently puts another challenge before city government: Coming up with a plan to execute the reforms. In these early stages, the city is in the process of reviewing the document. The next immediate step will be review. Even Hutson's office is still deep in analysis of the report.


 "The City, the City Attorney, and the rank of the department are scouring these recommendations, looking at what they need to do, and how to implement them... And, then the two sides are going to sit down and talk."


In addition to figuring out how to reform the department, the city and the feds will also have to figure out how they can push through reforms within the constraint of the city's limited budget.

"They are going to say, 'This is what we want, what can you pay for?' They need to get something that everyone can agree on and is fiscally responsible."
She cites Los Angeles as a city that paid a price for failing to keep its reforms within what it could afford.
"it took them several years to get out of it, and part of that was because they could not afford to comply with parts of it," she said of the L.A. consent decree. "For example, they could not afford to put cameras in [police] cars. They need to put something in place that is real, but gives them time to get things done, and gives time for this budget crisis to heal itself a little bit."

Then comes the official stuff. We have heard much about that consent decree - which means the DOJ will oversee operations at the Department. Any changes will also be overseen by a federal judge. While these negotiations are going on, the DOJ will file a lawsuit against the city to force the changes.


At last week's press conference to announce the findings of the report, Mayor Landrieu bluntly stated, "There will be a physical document that reads United States vs. City of New Orleans, and that paper will be filed in a federal court."


As official as this may sound, Hutson paints it as a voluntary, if not painful move on the part of all parties.


"They [DOJ] need to sue to get it into court, and to get the oversight of the federal judge, but the City is saying, 'We want this. We want you to come in, and we want to put in best practices, and do what's right for the community.'"


Once the court case openst, the results of the negotiations will be bundled into a consent decree, and the aforementioned federal judge will be placed in charge of overseeing the NOPD until reforms are made. Hutson describes this path as a compromise.


On the softer side would be a Memorandum of Understanding between the feds and the city, but she says the mayor and the powers that be have eschewed the lite option, and deliberately sought judicial supervision. On the other hand, Hutson points out that worst case scenarios still exist.


"So, there are a couple ways to look at it. It depends how the negotiations go," she said. The federal government is saying, 'Hey we have this pattern of practice.' So, they could go forward if they need to and just prosecute it."


To report an abuse of power or concern with an NOPD officer, call Hutson's office at (504) 681-3217 or email: 



















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