Why are Louisiana Politicians Attacking our Culture and Tourism Economy?

Chayil Jones FeatherFundNola.com

Louisiana culture, as we know it, is facing extreme challenges by its own politicians. HB383 by Rep. Jay Galle- Slidell seeks to destroy the very cultural fabric of New Orleans and its tourism economy. This bill, along with a slew of others, are proposed under the guise of protesting and protecting police officers, such as HB 173 Rep. Bryan Fontenot- Thibodaux and HB205 Rep. Brian Glorioso- Slidell.

What is HB 383:
Relative to civil liability; to provide for limitations of actions; to provide relative to a pedestrian illegally blocking a roadway; to provide for use of force with vehicle in order to retreat or escape; and to provide for related matters. Be it enacted by the Legislator of Louisiana.

Further explanation:
No pedestrian illegally blocking the roadway in violation of HB 383, or ANY OTHER applicable statue shall have a cause of action against the operator of a motor vehicle for ANY injury, DEATH, loss of damage resulting from any act or omission by operator of motor vehicle.

Any parade, funeral procession, second line, children’s parade, or any cultural practices (that do not require a permit) can be driven through with a motor vehicle if the driver is confused, unaware of surroundings, and fearing for his/her life. Drivers will have No responsibility or liability, monetarily or criminally, for results of driving through a parade or procession, including death.

This kind of law disrupts the cultural economy of this city and its community. It places a fear of gathering for citizens to hold traditional celebrations that bring tourism dollars to this city, by the tune of $891 Million (2023) just with Mardi Gras/Carnival Season activities. An estimated $90 million from non-permitted events is hosted by the Black Masking/Aboriginal Carnival Injuns (or Mardi Gras Indians) and the Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs each year. The Injun processions have been taking place since 1830 and are grandfathered in to not require permitting; these types of processions are most at-risk.

Rep. Candice Newell was asked about the effects this bill would have on cultural and economic traditions in New Orleans. She responded by saying, “It puts our culture bearers at risk, as well as the citizens of New Orleans and the visitors, if we are making laws that are so broad and general that give people a defense for showing no regard or no respect for human dignity of life. Who will want to continue this culture and these traditions and who would want to visit to see these traditions if at the whim of another who proclaims to have some feign since of fear for the processions going on? Who would want to continue to participate and come to our beautiful city and see these traditions being carried out?”

Although this bill and others come under the guise of protesting and protecting police, Rep. Jay Galle in a New Orleans Advocate article states the reason for his bill is “that he worried about scenarios where his wife and kids might come upon a protest that got out of hand.”
In the City of New Orleans, a parade, second line procession, or funeral can be viewed as a “protest.” During the reconstruction of 1865, every Mardi Gras float was a political statement even to the recent explicitly graphic floats made about our present mayor. Do these qualify as a protest in Rep. Jay Galle’s scenario? We requested feedback from Rep. Galle’s office but had not received a response at press time.

Rep. Candice Newell was asked about the potential judicial ruling under this bill: who would have the right in the scenario of a concealed weapon owner opening fire on a speeding motorist that is unaware of their surroundings at a parade or second line processions in fear of their lives? His response was, “I see many conflicts arising, and no one having to bear responsibility.”

Justin Brown of EmpoweryouNola says.

“This legislation is so vague with these house bills that no one knows who would be legally justified. If both parties decide to take action because they fear for their lives, the motorist or pedestrian carrying a legal weapon, it’s not clear who would be at fault.”
When asked the same question Bro. Willie Mohammed responded by saying, “At the root of this bill is anger over the numerous protests that have taken place over the continued abuse of members of various law enforcement departments. The bill is vague and subjective. If ‘a driver feels their life is in danger.’ Sounds similar to the language that is used to justify the use of violence by members of the law enforcement who say they used deadly force ‘because their life was in danger.’ Illegally?? Every act of civil disobedience that forced America to change its racist laws and even Supreme Court decisions was considered illegal. There is a better way, and this bill is not it.”

What can the community do?

This HB 383 moves to Senate committee June 1st before moving to the senate floor to be passed. To stop it in committee, we must contact listed committee members via emails and phone calls to Say No to HB 383.

Many citizens in this city are tired, agitated, and want change but are fearful of speaking up. I hope that spirit continues until there is no fear of economic backlash from political ties, and as a city and community, regardless of religious or ethnic background, can stand together in these troubling times of changing laws.

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