WWNO's Listening Post project asks questions about local news in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and reports back on the community's response. This week the Listening Post asks: have you ever been to a protest in New Orleans?
From New York to Hong Kong, Mexico City to Ferguson, Missouri, people around the world are gathering to protest.
A few hundred New Orleanians recently protested the verdict in the case of Michael Brown, and ongoing protests in the city have included the case of Eric Garner.
The protests in New Orleans have been relatively small in comparison to marches in cities like New York, Oakland, and Los Angeles. So we got to wondering about the protest culture here in Louisiana, and why outrage over recent events in New York and Missouri seems a little more subdued.
Elizabeth Steeby is an associate professor of English at the university of New Orleans. She researches social protest in the south and says New Orleans has been in perpetual protest mode the last decade.
"People have really been fighting in the streets. Things like the decimation of public housing, the closure of Charity Hospital. We shouldn’t say theres only 300 people at this protest," Steeby says.
And Steeby says while smaller, the recent New Orleans protests have a lot of local nuance, starting with the route protesters take, Lee circle to Congo Square.
"It's returning to places that have this cultural resonance such as the pro-Confederate lineage of Robert E. Lee and pro-slavery lineage of that. Also then tapping into what’s a powerful source of energy with Congo Square," she says.
Click below to hear more from Dr. Elizabeth Steeby about the history of protest in New Orleans.
As usual, we wanted to know what New Orleanians were thinking about our topic. We sent a text message asking:
- Have you ever been to a protest in New Orleans? What was it about?
"Yes. Trayvon Martin"
"Yes. BP oil spill in Jackson square."
"Critical mass bike ride to show solidarity after a bike riders was killed on st. Claude"
"My first protest was against the Iraq War. I attended one for Ferguson last week, plus lots of others over the years."
"In 2007 I attended a protest at city hall over gun violence"
"Yes, to protest Mike Brown's death and the Ferguson police's reaction to it.
"Yes, teacher strike. It was more pay and better working condition."
"Yes. Anti war protests, crime protests, etc."
"I have not attend any protest in New Orleans"
"Yes. Silence is violence when Helen hill and Darnell shavers were murdered."
- If you were going to organize a protest in New Orleans, what would it be about?
"The bullshit criminal justice system"
"To restrict driving in the french quarter to service vehicles"
"The poor quality of public transportation"
"Preserving New Orleans heritage"
"Fair wages for working people."
"I would organize a protest against the mayor and city council about the inequality in the development of N.O. east compared to the rest of the city."
"Question Corporate power in governmental decision making process."
"Evaluate and change stop/frisk policy. Specifically in regards to transgender residents."
"Violence and the educational system."
"Probably violence. Police mistreatment"
The last word in our segment goes to Mardi Gras favorites Krewe du Vieux, a parade known for its social commentary. Jeremy Martin is co-captain of the sub-Krewe of spank,. He says the parade doesn’t take the place of a protest, but it’s a good way to express solidarity.
"We need to give a forum for the absurdities we put up with. And I think that’s healthy to bring them out in the open and say 'Look, isn’t this ridiculous?' At the very least it gives people the feeling that they’re not alone," he says.
Click below to hear more from our interview with Jeremy Martin.
Remember, if you want to join the conversation, text the word "Hello” to 504-303-4348. Or stop by our Listening Post recording device at Norman Mayer library in Gentilly. You can record your thoughts on our weekly topics and you might just hear your voice on the radio.
Hit us up! We'll see you at the Listening Post.