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Rosa Keller Library (5:00-9:00 PM)
My House NOLA presents a rolling food vendor mini festival
Maple Leaf (8:00PM)
Feel the Mardi Gras Indian beat with Big Chief Monk Boudreaux
Rebirth Brass Band
Crescent City Farmers Market
Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns
The Antenna Gallery (7:00 PM)
A series of music-themed movies and documentaries, curated and hosted by DJ Soul Sister, and co-presented by Charitable Film Network, Press Street, and WWOZ
Jewish Community Center (7:30 PM)
The second evening of a chamber music festival that has something for classical aficionados and dilettantes alike
Circle Bar (10:00 PM)
Catch the Indie rockers on their North American tour
Of Police Towers and Proselytizers
Southern Decadence Stirs Up Bourbon Street
Blue lights and stepped-up patrols were a reality during Hurricane Isaac for the NOPD, but Southern Decadence didn't take the boosted police prescene in stride. The NOPD posted up on Bourbon Friday in a tall guard tower at the epicenter of the annual gay festival near the corner of St. Ann and Bourbon Streets in the French Quarter. Police planned to keep the towers at the spot all weekend, but local bar owners felt it detracted from the ambience, to say the least.
Ken Grandpre, the general manager of a company called Wood Enterprises that runs a number of bars including Lafitte in Exile, Raw Hide and Good Friends in the area known as the "Fruit Loop," said on Friday that his biggest concern for Decadence’s turnout wasn’t Isaac, but the NOPD’s pronounced presence.
“They put towers up in the 800 and 900 blocks of Bourbon, and it’s going to intimidate people who are in the closet,” Grandpre said. “I find it very discriminating that during a gay festival they bring out these towers when during Mardi Gras, Essence Fest, even the Super Bowl, they don’t put them out here.”
Grandpre also said that he and Wood Enterprises Owner Tom Wood had contacted the 8th District Police Department and had not received a response as of Friday at approximately 4pm.
When NoDef went to check out the scene on Saturday night, the towers had vanished. It would appear that the NOPD heard the calls of the gay community, but the police department's Director of Public Affairs Remi Braden told NoDef that the NOPD’s primary concern was effectiveness.
“We removed the towers last Friday around 2pm. One was relocated to Bourbon St. and Esplanade Ave. The other was taken out of service. The reason is because it was determined the towers were too large to operate effectively where there first positioned. The corner of Bourbon and Esplanade was chosen because the biggest crowds tend to hover there, the towers are designed to keep careful watch of criminal activity to protect—in this case—the Decadence crowd.”
The towers are implemented as a safety measure during Mardi Gras, the Sugar Bowl, New Year’s Eve, and other densely populated events, even if they aren't located on that block of Bourbon Street, Braden said.
Napoleon’s Itch is another gay bar on the corner of Dauphine and Bourbon, and owner Chuck Robbins was happy to see the towers go.
“I don’t know how they got taken down, but they needed to be. It was too bright, it was abrasive,” said Robbins.
Although the local bar owner feels the towers would have negatively impacted the fest’s atmosphere, he is pleased overall with the NOPD and doesn’t take offense to the police’s strong presence on the Decadence streets.
“They do it on Mardi Gras, they do it for the safety,” Robbins said.
The need was immediately evident, as Robbins went on to explain a Saturday night episode that landed nine preachers in jail. The group of anti-gay protestors yelled slurs over bullhorns and were arrested for “aggressive solicitation,” an ordinance that prohibits “any person or group of persons to loiter or congregate on Bourbon Street for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise.”
One of the participants in the demonstration allegedly punched a police officer and was booked with a battery charge.
“Afterwards, we had the Jesus freaks attack the cops, attack a lieutenant. They surrounded them. They [the police] tried to get them off their bullhorns, they came up behind my stage screaming, ‘you [slurs], you die,’ Robbins said.
Overall, the NOPD is supportive of the festival, Robbins said.
"They try to protect us. I know the police; I had them on stage welcoming the crowd. They protect the gay community," he said.
Dead Huey Long, Emma Boyce, Ian Hoch, Sarah Esenwein, Ryan Sparks, Will Dilella, Chris Rinaldi, Lianna Patch, Phil Yiannopoulos, Cate Czarnecki, Jonas Griffin, Jennifer Abbot, Mary Kilpatrick, Elaina Patton, Mike Horst, Devin Bambrick, Katherine McGuire, Norris Ortolano, Joe Shriner
Ryan Sparks, Kerem Ozkan
Michael Weber, B.A.
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