A new ordinance passed last Thursday in New Orleans places a curfew on the popular, tourist-attracting French Quarter section of the city. The law, which applies to youths 16 and under, creates an 8 p.m. curfew on Fridays and Saturdays, from its long-standing 11 p.m. curfew. It also applies to the nearby Faubourg Marigny neighborhood.
The main backer of the law, Councilwoman Kristen Gisleson Palmer, whose district includes the French Quarter, said this was to protect children from violence and liquor. The popular open-air nightlife zone has more than 350 places to buy liquor and an abundance of strip clubs. "If we can, in any way, protect children from that, I think it's very reasonable," Palmer said.
But many African Americans in the city believe that this new law isn't about protecting children from liquor and violence but about protecting tourists from them. "There is this desire not to have these black males in the French Quarter," Tracie L. Washington, an attorney who heads the Louisiana Justice Institute, a nonprofit civil rights group, told the Boston Herald. Washington has called for an African-American boycott of the French Quarter to begin on Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Palmer, who is white, dismissed the allegations.
We wouldn't be shocked if part of the reasoning behind the law is to keep African Americans away from the French Quarter, and we do wonder if black restaurant and bar workers will be accosted when they leave their jobs during those hours. But we're especially interested in hearing from those who have been to New Orleans or who live there. Please let us know your opinion in the comments section.
Read more at the Boston Herald.