Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Orleans Police Department draws fresh criticism, this time from anarchists

March 21, 2011 by Andrew Vanacore, The Times-Picayune

The New Orleans Police Department faces a growing list of critics.

It was not enough for the U.S. Department of Justice last week to point
out a "clear pattern of unconstitutional uses of force by NOPD officers"
over the past few years.

This is apparently one issue where the government and those calling for an
end to all government can agree.

A group calling itself the New Orleans Anarchist Media Coalition took aim
at the force on Monday, denouncing the NOPD for acting "unprofessionally,
impulsively and with undue intimidation and force."

They made two demands:

First, for "full investigative powers" for the city's independent police
monitor. As is, the police monitor only "oversees" internal investigations
into alleged misconduct or the use of force.

Second, they want "the firing of any police officer who engages in or has
been complicit to acts of murder, rape, harassment, beatings or any other
abuses of their power."

This all comes up because the NOPD halted a second-line parade in the
Marigny on the Sunday before Mardi Gras for lack of a permit. Police and
marchers scuffled, resulting in a handful of injuries and a dozen arrests.
Then, the police shut down a community collective operating just a few
blocks away that served as an anarchist bookstore, lending library and
arts center.

The NOPD cited a complaint from the office of a city council member, again
for lack of the proper permits to operate. But police have not said which
city council member complained or what kind of permits are required to
keep the place open.

Anarchists and others in the area say the forced closure was retaliation.

It is hard to nail down exactly who the coalition represents. Members, who
did not want their names used or pictures taken, said the group was
created for purposes of holding the press conference at the Unitarian
Universalist Church on Monday.

To one degree or another, they were affiliated with the Krewe of Eris
parade that was broken up by police or the collective. But, for perhaps
obvious reasons, they did not claim to represent any official

They did say that members of the collective that run the bookstore are
still meeting weekly and are looking for a new location.

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