Town hall strategizes fight against gender violence in New Orleans
New Orleans, LA – On Saturday, November 5, a group of women and LGBTQ people gathered at the LGBT Community Center to address gender violence in the city.
The discussion began with the chant “How do you spell rapist? N-O-P-D!”
The New Orleans Police Department recently declared sexual assaults to be “non-emergencies” while claiming to have made great progress on gender discrimination. Officer Gerry Paul of the 5th Precinct is an alleged rapist and still on the force. His accuser describes him using a police hold to pin her arms, while keeping his gun on the nightstand. Even though he would be fired from most jobs for this revelation, he’s only on desk duty. Paul still has his badge and his gun.
Jonny Frayle, a participant in the town hall, commented: “They say they don’t have enough officers, but what they really mean is so many cops are on administrative leave for misconduct.”
Participants agreed that civilians could respond more to mental health crises or domestic violence. The group also recognized that the city should have more services to address gender-based violence, such by providing rape crisis centers, housing for survivors and counseling for abusers.
People in attendance also debated the question of whether or not to jail Gerry Paul. Some were concerned that he could harm others in prison.
“I’m not afraid to say he should go in solitary,” said Toni Duplechain-Jones of New Orleans for Community Oversight of Police. The group generally agreed on the need for community control of the NOPD to hold officers like Paul accountable.
The discussion finally raised the issue of Louisiana’s complete abortion ban, with no exception for rape. Taken together, this ban and the NOPD give abusers a green light and completely eliminate the right to body autonomy.
The town hall resolved to build the fight for NOPD accountability and services for survivors. Real Name Campaign, the host organization, will hold an open meeting on Sunday November 13 at 3 p.m., at the Broadmoor Improvement Association.