[JPL] ACLU sues New Orleans over parade fees

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Mon Nov 20 18:34:16 EST 2006


ACLU sues New Orleans over parade fees

By CAIN BURDEAU, Associated Press Writer Thu Nov 16,
11:36 PM ET

The city is stifling free speech and threatening a
unique part of its culture by charging steep fees for
police escorts at the jazz-and-parasol processions
called second lines, the ACLU alleged in a federal
lawsuit Thursday.

"If we don't get some relief from the court, this
tradition will be taxed out of existence," said Joe
Cook, executive director of the American Civil
Liberties Union in Louisiana.

Police raised fees from about $1,200 to about $4,000
this year after two second-line parades were marred by
gunfire. One person was killed and several others
wounded.

The fees are so excessive they will infringe on clubs'
First Amendment rights by preventing them from holding
parades, the ACLU argues.

Franz Zibilich, an assistant city attorney, said that
the cash-strapped city is in a no-win situation
because it would be blamed for not providing more
officers at the processions, and that it needs to
raise fees to pay for them.

Second-line parades and their sash-wearing,
parasol-twirling participants, mostly members of the
working poor, are enmeshed in the city's musical and
cultural history.

"In many cases, you have fathers and grandfathers
marching with the boys, and I think they do a great
deal to strengthen family bonds," said Jason Berry, a
New Orleans music writer.

The parades, which usually take place on Sundays and
feature brass bands and wild dancing, sprang from New
Orleans' jazz procession tradition and inspired Louis
Armstrong. They are often organized by black social
groups and wend through neighborhoods, drawing people
out of their homes and onto the streets.

The clubs, which range in membership from a handful to
over 100, often pay for their annual blowouts by
holding fundraisers.

Terrence Williams, one of several second-line members
attending a news conference with the ACLU, said his
three-man group, the New Generation Social Aid and
Pleasure Club, will have a hard time coming up with
the fee for its Dec. 10 parade.

He said social clubs shouldn't be held responsible for
the criminals who cause violence at the events.

"If they want to shoot somebody, they're going to do
it; that's the bottom line," Williams said. "But don't
penalize us for it. We didn't do it."


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