NOPD and a brass band clash on Frenchmen Street, ICE protests are rescheduled for Friday July 19, New Orleans' culinary community will host more reproductive rights benefits, Big Freedia is the ice cream "Ice Kween," Eddie Rispone unveils pro-Trump campaigning, and another Landrieu enters the political arena. Here's what you need to know in New Orleans this week.
NOPD, brass band members, clash on Frenchmen Street
The latest skirmish between street musicians and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) erupted on Frenchmen Street last week, when video of an altercation between brass band musicians and the NOPD went viral.
The five-and-a-half minute cellphone video, shot by Facebook user Christopher Henry, shows NOPD arriving at the corner of Chartres and Frenchmen streets in response to a noise complaint by a local business. Cops arrested brass band musician Eugene Grant "for obstructing public passages and resisting an officer," according to an NOPD spokesman. Grant was released from custody the next morning and charges against him were dropped.
Several people in the video identify the owners of Frenchmen Art & Books as the people who called NOPD. The shop, which did business for decades as an LGBT and feminist bookstore known as Faubourg Marigny Art & Books under former owners Alan Robinson and Otis Fennell, was sold in March, according to its website.
Video of an altercation between Frenchmen Street brass band musicians and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) last night has gone viral.
The store is registered with the Louisiana Secretary of State to an LLC called Studio DMZ, whose registered agent is David Zalkind. No one answered the phone at the shop the following day.
Zena Moses, a musician who was playing a gig at the club 30°/-90°, told Gambit she showed up at 8:45 p.m. and saw NOPD officers running to the corner about 10 minutes later, where the Slow Rollas Brass Band was playing for a crowd. (By city ordinance, street bands must stop playing at 10 p.m.)
NOPD spokesman Andy Cunningham told Gambit in a statement, "Eighth District officers asked members of a brass band playing in the street to move to the sidewalk in order to allow traffic to pass and to not block the entrance to a nearby business. At that time, a member of the band later identified as Eugene Grant struck one of the officers in the chest with his instrument, damaging the officer’s body-worn camera.
"After striking the officer with his instrument, Grant refused repeated requests by both officers and citizens to calm down, forcing the officers to detain Grant until backup arrived. Grant was arrested for obstructing public passages and resisting an officer."
Catherine Buccello of New York, who was in town for the Essence Music Festival, was among those documenting the incident on her cellphone. She told Gambit that NOPD officers — she estimated 10 to 15 of them were on the scene — had their Tasers out as Grant was pinned to the ground.
"Emotions were running high" on both sides, she said. "It's just very heartbreaking to see after celebrating Essence Fest."
Moses told Gambit that Grant, who is in his early 20s, is a "floater," who plays trumpet with various bands on the corner and is well known: “New Orleans musicians, they practically raised this little boy.”
After witnessing the arrest of local brass band musician Eugene Grant by New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers last night and seeing t…
Buccello said Frenchmen Street workers told her that Grant, a regular on the block, would be taken home by local workers when their shifts were over.
Grant is known to be disabled, Moses said, “as we say in the city, ‘slow,'" but that he was "never irate. ... I can’t see him being aggressive." Grant’s mother Betty told The New Orleans Advocate that Eugene has developmental delays and is on the autism spectrum.
Moses said she counted 15 police cars responding to the incident — 13 marked and two unmarked, both NOPD and Louisiana state troopers — and has video of them.
“You would think they had weapons of mass destruction the way the police were responding,” she added.
"NOPD will always celebrate our city’s world-famous traditions and culture, including its music," NOPD spokesman Cunningham said in his statement, "while also responding accordingly to complaints made by our residents, visitors and business owners."
Brass bands have been a traditional fixture at that intersection, which is anchored by Frenchmen Art & Books, Dat Dog, Willie's Chicken Shack (on the site of the former Praline Connection) and the defunct Cafe Brasil. At night, dozens if not hundreds of people, many of them tourists, often go to the corner to enjoy free brass band music.
“Musicians are the ones that enhance the culture,” Moses said, but “the musicians always get the short end of the stick.” — KEVIN ALLMAN & KAYLEE POCHE
ICE protests rescheduled due to hurricane watch
After a hurricane watch was issued for parts of south Louisiana last week, several New Orleans events aimed at protesting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its detention centers — protests originally scheduled for Friday, July 12 — have been rescheduled for Friday, July 19.
The group Southern Belles for Social Justice are planning a protest at the New Orleans ICE Field Office (1250 Poydras St.) from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. According to the event’s Facebook page, the purpose of the protest is to “shame ICE employees,” reminding attendees that “it is critical that during this action we do not disrupt asylum seekers entering the building.”
Advocates then will reconvene for an event dubbed Eat Pizza! Cry! Defund ICE, at Red Truck Clubhouse (740 N. Rampart St.) to make signs and organize before heading to the last event of the day, a candlelight vigil for “those lost in migration and detention throughout history.”
A funeral procession through the French Quarter will begin at 6:30 p.m. and conclude back at the ICE office for the vigil — organized by Lights for Liberty. Drums, parading bands and bells are encouraged, as well as costumes.
Speakers and performers are scheduled from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The vigil will begin at 9 p.m. Real candles are not allowed; organizers ask attendees to bring battery-operated tea lights or use phone flashlights instead. Lights for Liberty has organized similar vigils across the country, with several scheduled for July 12 and others planned for Covington and Baton Rouge.
Note: A spokesman for Mayor LaToya Cantrell's office says that Vincenzo Pasquantonio, director of the Mayor’s Office of Human Rights and Equit…
Local sponsors of the vigil include New Orleans City Hall’s Office of Human Rights and Equity, the New Orleans and Metairie chapters of Indivisible, Puentes New Orleans and Bethlehem Lutheran Church, among others.
These events follow reports last month that New Orleans was one of the 10 cities targeted for a large-scale deportation effort by ICE, announced by President Donald Trump but ultimately delayed to work out a deal concerning the U.S.-Mexico border. — KAYLEE POCHE
Local food-related reproductive rights benefits continue
After a “boozy bake sale” raised more than $45,000 for reproductive and abortion rights groups last month, several in the culinary community are continuing food-based events to raise money for the cause.
Bacchanal Wine has kicked off its Wednesday Primal Night backyard barbecue series. While the event is free, plates of grilled food will be provided with a suggested donation of $20 per plate. According to a press release, the event will last “until the food runs out.”
All donations will benefit Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and Lift Louisiana, a New Orleans group active in women’s rights issues in Louisiana.
“Anyone who saw the long lines at the bake sale, or participated in any of the protests knows that New Orleanians want and support women’s reproductive rights,” said Michelle Erenberg, Lift Louisiana executive director.
Hundreds gathered at a "boozy bake sale" Saturday afternoon at Auction House Market to buy baked goods, alcoholic beverages and other merchand…
During the 2019 legislative session, Lift Louisiana members were vocal in hearings testifying for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and against several abortion restrictions. Ultimately, state lawmakers did not pass the ERA but did pass restrictive abortion measures, mirroring a national trend of abortion restrictions passed by lawmakers in red states.
Backlash to the restrictions began quickly, starting with a symbolic resolution by the New Orleans City Council condemning one of the most stringent bills passed by the Legislature — one that would ban abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. A protest and fundraisers for abortion rights groups popped up around the city.
Erenberg said these fundraisers provide funding that abortion rights organizations rely on to stay afloat and help increase awareness surrounding reproductive issues.
“The opposition is well-funded and organized, so we need to build our numbers and show our strength,” she said.
The series will take place every Wednesday through the beginning of October, according to Bacchanal’s website.
Participating chefs include Jacqueline Blanchard of Coutelier, Mason Hereford of Turkey and the Wolf and Molly’s Rise and Shine, Marcus Jacobs of Marjie’s Grill, Kristin Essig of Coquette, Matt Kohl of Chicago’s Young American Bar and Nick Martin of La Boca.
After a “boozy bake sale” in June raised more than $45,000 for reproductive and abortion rights groups, several in the culinary community are …
Big Freedia, the ice cream diva
New Orleans' Queen Diva will now double as the “Ice Kween” thanks to a new Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor, Big Freedia’s Bouncing Beignets, which was announced during the recent Essence Music Festival.
Freedia and Ben & Jerry’s representatives unveiled the new flavor — vanilla ice cream with a bourbon caramel swirl topped with powdered sugar — and let attendees at a launch event at Republic NOLA sample a scoop. Oddly, Ben & Jerry’s representatives said they couldn't say when or if the flavor would be available in grocery stores.
The event benefited charities No Kid Hungry Louisiana, Upturn Arts and Liberty’s Kitchen, three charities with which Freedia is involved. Freedia also announced she was working on her own foundation called Bounce Up “for the kids of New Orleans."
The Queen of Bounce will now also double as the “Ice Kween” thanks to a new Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor, Big Freedia’s Bouncing Beignet…
“I choose kids because on their journey growing up, our kids need guidance,” Freedia said, “and if I can try to help be that guidance and a role model, I want to do just that. … This is home, so I’ve got to give back to home.”
Freedia also gave fans a listen to her new track with pop singer Kesha called “Chasing Rainbows” — which will be the first single on her next album.
“This song is about being a kid and going through the things that I went through and chasing my dreams, and it’s about everybody being able to chase their dreams, no matter who you are,” Freedia said. “No matter what race, no what matter what your gender, no matter who you choose to love, you have to chase your dreams — and this is about me still on my journey to chasing my dreams.” — KAYLEE POCHE
Rispone goes all in on Trump; X marks the Landrieu
Though President Donald Trump, who remains popular in Louisiana, has yet to weigh in on the state's October gubernatorial race — in which Republicans U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone both hope to unseat Democratic incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards — Rispone is tying his run closely to Trump.
Last week, Rispone debuted a 30-second commercial titled “Eddie Rispone: Drain the Swamp,” in which he promised to drain the proverbial (if not the literal) swamp in Baton Rouge. “We have people who make a living off of government,” Rispone said. He also revealed a bumper sticker that read “I STAND WITH TRUMP” in large capital letters, with “Eddie Rispone for Governor” in small type at the bottom. The stickers are available for sale for $5.
A fourth candidate, Gary Landrieu — cousin of former Mayor Mitch Landrieu and former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu — continued his outsider gubernatorial campaign by announcing online, “GARY LANDRIEUX, I AM NOW AN X LANDRIEU.” One of his major campaign vows is to crack down on illegal immigration; in a 30-second ad filmed at Lee Circle, Landrieu promises, “I’m gonna round them [illegal immigrants] up and send them back to their home countries” — though Landrieu does not explain how a governor could have the power to deport anyone. — KEVIN ALLMAN
The rate is down significantly from 6.3 percent when Gov. John Bel Edwards took office in January 2016, which is why his reelection team is touting it as a sign the state is moving in the right direction as they gear up for the governor’s election this November.