French Quarter safety plan could include cameras that can spot guns through clothing 

This idea is so messed.

Potential constitutional problems as the FQ surveillance plan could include cameras that could detect guns and other objects under clothing.

“I think that this is a violation of people’s constitutional rights, and I cannot imagine that the public will accept that,” Esman said. “It really defies common sense because it presumes that everybody carrying a weapon is going to use it for an improper purpose, and that’s just not the case.”

There are significant questions about how police would use the information gleaned from the cameras and whether that information would be enough justification to search those believed to have weapons, Esman said. That’s particularly true if they would be set up on a public street, where standards are different than requiring people to go through metal detectors or body scanners at airports.”

Cameras that can spot guns through layers of clothing — using infrared or similar technologies — may be included in sweeping new security measures for Bourbon Street to be proposed.

French Quarter safety plan could include cameras that can spot guns through clothing | State Politics |

Another day of guns and road rage in New Orleans

This year, one of our most popular ex-Saints football players was shot and killed on the busy streets of the busy Lower Garden District in the hours after one of our most attended public festivals. The story was initially reported as being that the shooter, Hayes, had followed him and shot him in an unprovoked attack. Hayes was reportedly carrying a gun legally and has said that he had it to his side pointed down until provoked by the victim. He says Smith went back to his car, got a gun and threatened him, although that gun has not surfaced. Smith’s wife was shot in both legs which certainly hurts Hayes’ story of only defending himself against a gun.
Hayes’ criminal record was immediately displayed as evidence of his lawlessness, even though it really told us nothing. The odd fact that the couple shot had just had dinner with the police officer who had shot Hayes’ father years earlier was used as evidence as vendetta by the media but for locals, it was just another version of the one or two degrees of separation and randomness that was super normal pre-K and is still expected.

Really, the tragedy is the argument that led to this was likely over nothing and only shows the lack of maturity on both sides. The ending paragraph of the GQ story tells it all in a nutshell: Hayes had no idea who it was he shot and, having been a promising player once himself, was horrified to find out the man he shot had been one of his favorite football players.

Generations of men grow up here and other places with bright dreams that are slowly squashed by reality and then one day, another man brushes too close to his girl or taps his prized car without apology. That speeds up the damaged heart and the rage stored there is quickly pumped throughout the body, leading to the moment when a gun is pointed and the trigger pulled. Maybe the hope is mostly that the gun itself will serve as enough of a warning to stop any other action (a MAN standing his ground), but the truth is too often that is not the end of it, but the tragic beginning.

The misguided and escalating anger over slight damage to personal property along with the fear among high-strung men (esp. an ex football player once arrested for a domestic violence charge against his wife after an altercation in public) of being “played” in public seem to be the real story here. Neither should be the reason for a death or trial and likely punishment of another.  But here it is again.

Saint Will and the Man Who Shot Him | GQ


For a French Quarter blog, this is a subject that must be covered. Anyone who watches the news or lives in or near the fancier areas of town has noted the outright racism shown by authorities to groups or individuals of color as they walk through these streets. And, we residents should also note the juxtaposition of all white faces of residents behind the gates as people of color walk in from Rampart at 6 am in kitchenwear, maid outfits and maintenance shirts to service our community. How many executive chefs are Creole anymore? How many of our gallery managers or front desk managers are anything but overwhelmingly white? How long do heroic statues of those who fought (and lost) a civil war to enslave their neighbors stand?

It matters because institutional racism limits access without thinking, discourages incentive and punishes those with the “wrong” color with bullets and beatings for simply walking, or driving with a broken tail light or for a million mundane activities that those of us with white faces do without thinking. As for the response of “just do what the cop says and you won’t get hurt” I hope Sandra Bland or Michael Brown are at least examples of how that is a lie, and now as of this week, our most recent neighbor Alton Sterling as seen in the horrifying videos shot by witnesses.

I promise my neighbors to always be a witness too.


Two local women talk about this issue below, both cut and pasted from their FB page.

 From local photographer Cheryl Gerber:

That awesome conversation that always goes south. That joke that makes you cringe. That Obama comment that goes way too far. As a white person growing up in the south, these things are all too common. If you grew up here, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve had to examine my own prejudices and reprogram my thinking over a lifetime. I’m still learning. To my dear black friends, I’m sorry. I sorry for every time I didn’t speak up in the face of ignorance. I’m sorry I didn’t bring my black boyfriend to the company Christmas party because I was afraid of the backlash. And I’m sorry I didn’t feel more outrage when this continually happened before cellphone videos captured what you’ve been saying for years. I was young and programmed to be racist. I never hated anyone. But I didn’t understand white privilege and what my black friends were up against. But I can’t go back in time. I can only move forward. I’m teaching Kid G the complexities of racism and how to check himself. How to stand up and never be afraid to speak up in the face of racism. So far, I think I’ve done a good job. I have hope for the future. But right now I feel a sadness to the depths I’ve never known before. I was sad for Michael Brown and Freddy Gray and Eric Garner and all the others. But this time
It was in our backyard. Where racist policies are made. Where football fans fly purple and gold confederate flags. Where people publish hateful comments after a disaster. Where other mothers at the skate park feel so comfortable in our mutual whiteness that they can express their racist vitriol to me. I’m so glad I checked myself and my fears as a young woman. But it doesn’t seem like enough. I’m digging deep. I can’t stop hearing the cries of the woman who videotaped the shooting. Or the image of Alton’s 15-year-old son standing next to his crying mother at the press conference. Let justice be swift.


Tricia Boutté-Langlo Langevåg, Norway ·

 People always ask me, “Why did you move to Norway?” My initial response was, “It’s a beautiful country with a great social system, a fertile arts environment with great musicians and a stable future.” It’s become so much more than that over the past few years. One of the #1 reasons now, I FEEL, SAFE.Last year a lady in New Orleans asked me the same question and I gave her my standard response. She still didn’t get it. She said, “But it gets so cold there!” “Yea, but we have good winter clothes, warm, well insulated homes, oh, and the chances of a cop killing me for no reason, are basically nonexistent.” She was white. My statement made her uncomfortable. Good.
Norway isn’t perfect. No place is perfect, but I choose to be in a place where I have NEVER had a police officer follow me around in shops thinking I might be stealing something. I have NEVER been trailed by a police car waiting or hoping I forget to use a turn signal or make a full stop to have a “reason” to pull me over and kill me. I have NEVER been randomly targeted by law enforcement in any form in the country that I now call home. I FEEL, SAFE.
People, as a right of being human, deserve to FEEL SAFE. Especially from those who swore to protect and serve ALL CITIZENS EQUALLY.
Why does my hue make me expendable? Why is my brown a target?
My mother always told me, don’t stay in a place where you don’t feel welcome. I didn’t.

My take on this take on Jane Jacobs and New Orleans

Post in The Lens by urban critic Roberta Brandes Gratz:


My response:

I always appreciate Roberta’s take on things, even though I think that she (and The Lens) sometimes rely on a narrative that is preservation precious, meaning it focuses on historic corridors and “worthy” buildings over a real housing criticism. Her exultation over the neighborhood corridor boom is a bit odd when in New Orleans, neighborhood mom and pops simply never went away but instead brought back after the levee breaks whiter and trendier than before.
Maybe the real issue is the feeling I often have that too many people still have a vision in their head of a return to the halcyon days of Main Street America, circa 1950, and expect city hall to deliver us a version of that, even though our lives and shopping have changed completely. That thinking limits the potential of old corridors and gives tacit approval to keep them empty until someone can redevelop them as before rather than re-imagining storefronts as low-income rental units or as rooms for unhoused population or shared workspaces or (gasp) even green space where buildings were before.

However, Roberta was spot on in her early assessment of the new hospital zone – about it being a developers boondoggle and about offering those jokers retail leases at ground floor and not about a better hospital than Charity.  That one of its aims wasto kill the street retail of Canal Street of one type by moving it to Tulane and likely make the old street filled with very exclusive shops and hotels- that is already coming to pass.
She is right about the code busting happening at City Hall: the new CZO is a joke. A form-based approach to zoning would be much more appropriate to our city than what we got.
The argument about streetcars is sort of lame, as the Rampart line going to Poland was stymied by the railroad and not by local policy or willingness, and the lack of public transportation is a deep and long problem that is not changed by that type of investment that involves streetcars which are clearly for the visitor.

Of course I am annoyed by her ignoring the French Quarter, my neighborhood, which is still a neighborhood and pound for pound the most active, diverse and mixed use area in the city in any 24-hour period; yes we have millions of visitors in our midst, but also have a somewhat steady population since K (and the changes correlate to the Orleans Parish census), more residents than the Marigny, or Bayou St. John or some other areas. We got our problems and some of them like development (or an overemphasis on festival culture!) are getting worse like every other area, but don’t dismiss us just ‘cuz that is the “supernative” thing to do when talking about New Orleans!

Since she was a many-times return visitor who then bought a home (although I think she may have since sold it) I am surprised at her toss off of the short-term rental issue. It seems to me it requires a thoughtful approach by thinkers like her, as she must know that it has allowed many homeowners to keep their house here and to do repairs and new residents to decide where to buy, and so when used well by principal homeowners, this system can be a boon.

But let’s give her writing the credit it is due: “Jacobs did not try to dictate how things ought to be; she wasn’t prescriptive..Local wisdom, she found, is where the best ideas for change take root. They don’t come from political leaders, planning professionals, developers or credentialed experts.” This is so right and because it is what I try to do in my work, I am glad to see it written so beautifully and simply.


(another response I posted the same day to a VCPORA story in the Advocate on lower population in the Quarter since 2000):

First, according to the Data Center, the numerical changes in our FQ neighborhood correlate to the dip in the entire parish. Second, those changes have a lot to do with the love affair planners and neighborhood associations have with encouraging massive single home renovations over incentivizing real mixed use. And the resident and business associations allowing heavy trucks in by just paying a small fee, actively discouraging bike or scooter parking, allowing film and festival culture to take over our area constantly are part of the problem residents have to overcome. Here are some things associations can do right now to swing the pendulum the other way: work to incentivize rent controlled apartments by offering tax breaks to those homeowners who have little used property (including upper floors of commercial buildings, especially on Chartres, Decatur and Canal), walk to find and fine those who hang key boxes on their gate that indicate illegal STR units, create a citizen reporting app to allow FT residents to file complaints immediately and directly about code violations and stop focusing on tshirt shop raids and instead focus on adding amenities that residents care about.