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New Orleans for Community Oversight of Police confronts mayor at town hall

By staff

Protesters hold signs addressing the mayor at town hall.

New Orleans, LA – On July 12, a group of concerned activists and locals attended a New Orleans town hall on public safety to voice their concerns on abortion access and state police. The town hall was one of a series hosted by Councilmember Freddie King III and guest speaker Mayor LaToya Cantrell. Over 100 people attended, sitting in the auditorium at LB Landry High School in Algiers, part of District C.

In the weeks before the town hall, New Orleanians rallied in the thousands to demonstrate outrage against the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Protesters demanded that the New Orleans district attorney and sheriff not comply with the state to arrest, prosecute or jail anyone seeking abortion in Orleans Parish. The DA and sheriff conceded to these demands. However, Louisiana State Police patrolling New Orleans’ streets could still enforce a statewide abortion ban and arrest residents or travelers seeking abortion. Through phone zaps, rallies and marches on the mayor’s house, the people of New Orleans held a sustained campaign demanding that Mayor Cantrell use her power to kick Louisiana State Police out of New Orleans, ensuring protection from state repression.

As the town hall began, the group of about 15 activists submitted numerous public comments. They sat patiently, holding up signs that read “Mayor Cantrell, Louisiana State Police have got to go!” and “Make New Orleans a sanctuary city for abortion!”

After an hour and a half, the group stood up when the question of abortion was finally raised for discussion. Cantrell stated that her stance was making sure that New Orleans becomes, “a safe haven for the people of New Orleans and throughout the state of Louisiana.” She did not elaborate on state police. Next to a large red banner that read “Defend the right to abortion,” organizer Toni Jones from New Orleans for Community Oversight of Police (NOCOP) shouted to the mayor from the seats of the auditorium. Jones asked directly for a statement on the presence of Louisiana State Police in the city, and whether the mayor would kick the state police out of New Orleans for the safety of those seeking abortion.

The mayor stood firmly in alliance with the state troopers, maintaining that the state police “will continue to be a partner with the city of New Orleans.”

With banner in hand, the group led a chant, shouting “State police off our streets!” as they marched out of the auditorium. Once outside, members of NOCOP summed up the efforts of the campaign and what the mayor's response meant for the future of the fight against police repression in New Orleans. Antonia Mar, a member of NOCOP, stated, “The mayor gave us her answer, and she’s siding with the violence of the police. The next step of our struggle is to go back to city hall and petition for a Civilian Police Accountability Council so that the people can have direct oversight over NOPD. This is not the last she’ll hear of us!”

New Orleans for Community Oversight of Police (NOCOP) was joined by members of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the Democratic Socialists of America, and allied community members.

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