LaToya “the DeStroya” Cantrell has created a throwback theme for 2021 Mardi Gras: Prohibition! Yes, it’s still the 2020s, but it certainly feels like New Orleans will get a whiff of the roaring 1920s this carnival season.
“I’d rather be accused of doing too much than doing too little,” Cantrell said at a press conference on Friday, February 5th. “So starting next Friday through Mardi Gras day, all bars in the city of New Orleans will be closed both indoor and outdoor, city wide.”
“There will be no package liquor stores or liquor sales in the French quarter, in its entirety. All sales of to-go drunks will be banned. Bourbon Street, Decatur Street, Frenchman Street will be closed to pedestrians and vehicles from 7 pm to 3 am.”
“There will be no loitering on Bourbon Street. No loitering on Frenchman Street. No loitering under the bridge. The Claiborne underpass and corridor will be fenced off.”
“Large gatherings are banned and will not be tolerated. Including activities that encourage people to congregate. So like street vending, street performing, it’s those types of things.”
“This has to matter to all of us, because this pandemic threatens all of us,” Cantrell said. “And at the end of the day, hmm, all of us must take the necessary actions to do the right thing to protect ourselves, to protect our families, to protect our work force.”
Cantrell and NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said the city’s police forces will work with Louisiana State Police, the fire marshal, and ATC to implement “enforcement mechanisms.” NOPD and OPSO will have “enhanced mounted patrols” that will disperse large crowds. Ferguson closed by pleading with everyone to stay home.
The whole message from the Cantrell administration is to force everyone to stay home and if not, face consequences. However throughout the entire press conference, no law was cited, and they only mentioned the word “arrest” two times. The bottom line is the government will “address” anyone, and they will be looking for any business trying to operate underground, you know, like a speakeasy, and fine them or attempt to pull permits.
The bottom line is the mayor and her appointed police chief are threatening people and businesses, but it sound like the legal grounds to punish either category involve a $500 fine on people and removing permits to operate. It will be interesting to see if lawsuits are filed to combat this government overreach. Cantrell didn’t even attempt to shy away from sticking her neck out admitting she prefers “doing too much.”
Another city employee offered tough talk to tax payers: “Voluntary compliance is always our objective, but the time for warnings is over. If you are caught out of compliance, you will be shut down on the spot. This city is not interested in doing business with anyone who would knowingly break the law and threaten the safety of our residents,” said Peter Bowen, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer. Bowen did not specify the law that citizens would be breaking.
After 25 minutes of threatening the tax base of the city, a reporter finally asked about the penalties. “In terms of bars opening, not following the guidelines, then they would lose–could lose their license to operate beyond Mardi Gras.” Asked about people in the streets. “If you don’t follow the law, then yeah, it’s potential you can be arrest-you can be issued a summons in lieu of arrest, but I’ll ask the chief to speak to that more definitely.”
“We still have the same rules and guidelines from which we started,” said Superintendent Ferguson. “There is an ordinance in which an individual can be cited for violating the mayor’s guidelines, Covid guidelines as they are written. It’s just as well as we can affect an arrest on the state level for violating the governor’s guidelines as well. But there is a citation in the amount of approximately $500 that can be issued if you are found to be in violation of any of the guidelines that exist at this time.”
A somewhat related yet undiscussed topic is whether mayor Cantrell is walking the walk or talking loud and saying nothing. The Hayride has repeatedly asked mayor Cantrell and her communications staff if LaToya Cantrell has taken a Covid-19 vaccine—they have not responded. The first request was made on January 27th, and so far three questions on the topic have been ignored. So Cantrell wants to make sure, “This has to matter to all of us,” except for her. She tweets about the vaccine and fighting “CovidVaccine hesitance.” She shares promotional videos encouraging people to get the vaccine. As best we can tell, despite an event on December 24, no evidence shows the DeStroya has actually heeded her own advice. A simple response from the administration and this could be squashed.
The biggest loss is government responds more harshly to the invisible enemy than it does the criminals. If only the mayor and police department responded to murders and violent crime the way they get tough with people over a virus, the effects would be unimaginable.
To sum up Mardi Gras 2021, mayor LaToya “the DeStroya” Cantrell wants to implement martial law and prohibition on the streets, but she didn’t provide legal evidence to obstruct business and activities beyond a $500 fine and threat to pull licenses to support these dictatorial desires. Stay home, but go see the House Floats and Floats in the Oaks. And tourists will have access to the French Quarter, but no drinking and limited access to locals, plus keep moving because if you linger a mounted horse may run you off. The city’s messaging is as clear as the Mississippi River.