Our Opposition Letter to New Orleans $40 Million 'Security Plan'
Individuals, organizations, businesses, and bands are all invited to sign our open letter.
A Real Security Plan for New Orleans Should Invest in Communities, Youth, and Culture, Not Surveillance, Incarceration, and Cultural Commodification
We the undersigned are united in opposition to the proposed “Citywide Public Safety Improvements” plan as currently written. While crime is a real problem in New Orleans, the answer is not investing $40 million dollars in surveillance cameras, security barriers, street improvements, and cultural commodification. Instead, we should be investing in economic and cultural opportunities for all of our residents. As Louisiana already has the highest mass incarceration rate in the world, we have a heightened responsibility to avoid any initiatives that could lead to increased profiling or arrests. A true ‘Safety Plan’ for New Orleans should focus on proactive approaches to addressing crime developed in conjunction with the community and drawing from our culture.
Together, we are calling for:
· A halt to implementation of all aspects of the plan until public meetings are held that are accessible to residents throughout the City.
· The removal of the requirement that all Alcoholic Beverage Outlets (bars, music venues, grocery stores, etc) throughout the city install security cameras that will be continually monitored. Private businesses should not be required to participate in a public surveillance system that could lead to discriminatory practices against marginalized communities. The withdrawal of the 3AM ‘doors closed’ rule for bars was a start, but not nearly enough.
· A reallocation of funds away from surveillance cameras and infrastructure improvements towards initiatives that fund substantive jobs for all of our youth, as well as support for cultural programs, mental health services, affordable housing, pre-trial diversion, and additional training for law enforcement; all of which have been proven to reduce crime in other cities.
· The removal of Times Square, Beale St, and other locations that use a top-down approach to limit and sterilize culture as models for New Orleans. Instead, a new approach should be developed that acknowledges and supports the fact that New Orleans culture is often informal, participatory, and community based.
Thank you, and we look forward to a revised plan that better fits the needs of the City, its culture, and its residents.