[JPL] New Orleans police stop Second Line, arrest musicians

dkunian at bellsouth.net dkunian at bellsouth.net
Tue Oct 30 14:22:36 EDT 2007

Even though I think you are right, that is not necessarily so.  Not all black folks like second lines either.  It is quite possible that a black person called to complain.  

What is so is that there are different laws and there is more pressure and more difficulty for participants in New Orleans black street traditions.

And to misquote the old song, "one monkey DOES stop the show," or one person complaining about noise can stop a whole parade, concert, festival, music club etc..

Don't let it happen to your town, any of y'all.

David Kunian - Jazz Lunatique midnight to 3 AM Wednesday nights - wwoz fm new orleans - www.wwoz.org

-------------- Original message from "Arturo" <arturo893 at qwest.net>: -------------- 

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> White people moving into the Tremé neighborhood are the cause.......... 
> This is identical to what occurred recently in Harlem when white folks 
> wanted to stop drumming the park that has been going on for over 40 years. 
> Police have cracked down on funeral processions, a time-honored cultural 
> tradition in the historic black neighborhood of Tremé. But musicians vow to 
> play on. By Larry Blumenfeld 
> Salon.com 
> Oct. 29, 2007 
> http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/10/29/treme/ 
> On the evening of Oct. 1, some two dozen of New 
> Orleans' top brass-band 
> players and roughly a hundred followers began a series 
> of nightly 
> processions for Kerwin James, a tuba player with the 
> New Birth Brass 
> Band 
> who had passed away on Sept. 26. They were "bringing 
> him down," as it's 
> called, until his Saturday burial. But the bittersweet 
> tradition that 
> Monday 
> night ended more bitterly than anything else -- with 
> snare drummer 
> Derrick 
> Tabb and his brother, trombonist Glen David Andrews, 
> led away in 
> handcuffs 
> after some 20 police cars had arrived near the corner 
> of North 
> Robertson and 
> St. Philip streets in New Orleans' historic Tremé 
> neighborhood. In the 
> end, 
> it looked more like the scene of a murder than 
> misdemeanors. 
> "The police told us, 'If we hear one more note, we'll 
> arrest the whole 
> band,'" said Tabb a few days later, at a fundraiser to 
> help defray the 
> costs 
> of James' burial. "Well, we did stop playing," said 
> Andrews. "We were 
> singing, lifting our voices to God. You gonna tell me 
> that's wrong 
> too?" 
> Drummer Ellis Joseph of the Free Agents Brass band, 
> who was also in the 
> procession, said, "They came in a swarm, like we had 
> AK-47s. But we 
> only had 
> instruments." 
> The musicians were no longer playing but instead 
> singing "I'll Fly 
> Away" 
> when the cops converged and the cuffs came out. A New 
> Orleans police 
> spokesman claimed the department was simply acting on 
> a neighborhood 
> resident's phoned-in complaint. And the department 
> maintains that such 
> processions require permits. 
> But when they busted up the memorial procession for a 
> beloved tuba 
> player, 
> arresting the two musicians for parading without a 
> permit and 
> disturbing the 
> peace, they didn't just cut short a familiar hymn -- 
> they stomped on 
> something sacred and turned up the volume in the fight 
> over the city's 
> culture, which continues amid the long struggle to 
> rebuild New Orleans. 
> In that fight, Tremé is ground zero. Funeral 
> processions are an 
> essential 
> element of New Orleans culture, and the impromptu 
> variety in particular 
> --- 
> honoring the passing of someone of distinction, 
> especially a musician 
> -- are 
> a time-honored tradition in neighborhoods like Tremé, 
> which some 
> consider 
> the oldest black neighborhood in America. For black 
> New Orleans 
> residents 
> who have returned to the city, these and other 
> street-culture 
> traditions -- 
> second-line parades and Mardi Gras Indian assemblies 
> -- offer perhaps 
> the 
> only semblance of normalcy, continuity and community 
> organization left. 
> In a 
> changing Tremé, within a city still in troubled limbo 
> and racked by 
> violent 
> crime, long-held tensions regarding the iconic street 
> culture have 
> intensified. The neighborhood, the breeding ground for 
> much of this 
> culture, 
> has a history of embattlement. And now more of that 
> history is being 
> written. 
> "I've been parading in the Tremé for more than 25 
> years, and I've 
> never had 
> to deal with anything like this," said tuba player 
> Phil Frazier, who 
> leads 
> the popular Rebirth Brass Band. He's brother to James, 
> who died of 
> complications of a stroke at 34. "I told the cops it 
> was my brother we 
> were 
> playing for, and they just didn't seem to care. He's a 
> musician and he 
> contributed a lot to this city in his short life." 
> Katy Reckdahl, a reporter for the New Orleans 
> Times-Picayune, had 
> rushed to 
> catch up with the Monday-evening procession when her 
> 2-year-old son 
> Hector 
> heard tubas in the distance. What she didn't expect 
> was a sudden flood 
> of 
> patrol cars, sirens blaring. Her front-page, 
> full-banner-headline 
> report two 
> days later described police running into the crowd, 
> grabbing at horn 
> players' mouthpieces, and trying to seize drumsticks 
> out of hands. "The 
> confrontations spurred cries in the neighborhood about 
> over-reaction 
> and 
> disproportionate enforcement by the police, who had 
> often turned a 
> blind eye 
> to the traditional memorial ceremonies," she wrote. 
> "Still others say 
> the 
> incident is a sign of a greater attack on the cultural 
> history of the 
> old 
> city neighborhood by well-heeled newcomers attracted 
> to Tremé by the 
> very 
> history they seem to threaten." 
> It's unclear who called the police that night. But 
> it's easy to sense 
> the 
> difference, longtime residents say, between North 
> Robertson Street 
> before 
> and after the storm. With its proximity to the French 
> Quarter and 
> historic 
> architecture, Tremé, which was not flooded, is newly 
> attractive to 
> home 
> buyers within the city's shrunken post-Hurricane 
> Katrina housing stock. 
> Meanwhile, as in most of New Orleans, rents have 
> sharply increased. 
> Derrick 
> Jettridge, who was born and raised in the Tremé, now 
> lives in the Mid 
> City 
> section. "I'd never find something in Tremé for the 
> $500 I was paying 
> before," he says. On her New Orleans Renovation blog, 
> Laureen Lentz 
> wrote 
> recently, "Since Katrina, the Historic Faubourg Tremé 
> Association has 
> gathered a lot of steam. Our neighborhood is changing 
> as people have 
> begun 
> to realize that this area is prime, non-flooded real 
> estate ... So much 
> is 
> happening in Tremé, it's hard to convince people that 
> aren't here. You 
> have 
> to see it to believe it." 
> Home prices in Tremé rose nearly 20 percent 
> immediately following the 
> flood, 
> settling at approximately 12 percent above pre-Katrina 
> rates, according 
> to 
> Al Palumbo, branch manager for the historic districts 
> office of Latter 
> & 
> Blum Realty. "Tremé, especially the area around North 
> Robertson and 
> St. 
> Peter, would certainly be among my first choices for 
> return on 
> investment in 
> New Orleans," he says. 
> But what might such development in the neighborhood 
> ultimately cost? 
> The 
> intensity of the police response during the Kermit 
> James procession 
> prompted 
> a second-line of print voices, so to speak, in the 
> Times-Picayune's 
> pages. 
> "If somebody is blowing a horn in Tremé and somebody 
> else is calling 
> the 
> police," wrote columnist Jarvis DeBerry, "only one of 
> those people is 
> disturbing the peace, and it isn't the one playing the 
> music." 
> Nick Spitzer, creator of the public-radio program 
> "American Routes," 
> wrote 
> in an Op-Ed piece, "in a city where serious crime 
> often goes 
> unprosecuted 
> and unpunished, jazz funerals make the streets 
> momentarily sacred and 
> safer." 
> "New Orleans Police Department declared a resumption 
> of its war against 
> our 
> city's culture," wrote columnist Lolis Eric Elie. 
> The day following the skirmish, discussions between 
> community leaders 
> and 
> 1st District police Capt. Louis Colin yielded a 
> temporary agreement. 
> The 
> evening after the arrests, Andrews, Tabb and other 
> musicians were back 
> on 
> those same streets, leading another procession, this 
> time protected by 
> a 
> permit, which some residents viewed as a disappointing 
> compromise. "We 
> don't 
> need anyone's approval to live our lives," one 
> resident told me. 
> Efforts to curtail these neighborhood processions as 
> well as the more 
> formal 
> Sunday afternoon second lines hosted by social aid and 
> pleasure clubs, 
> who 
> apply for official permits, continue to threaten 
> traditions already 
> weakened 
> by the loss of residents in Katrina's aftermath. 
> Participants view this 
> as 
> deeply hypocritical, given that so much promotion of 
> tourism for New 
> Orleans 
> includes images of brass-band musicians and 
> second-line dancers. 
> In April, a federal lawsuit on behalf of a consortium 
> of social aid and 
> pleasure clubs, aided by the American Civil Liberties 
> Union, protested 
> the 
> city's hiking of police security fees -- triple or 
> more from 
> pre-Katrina 
> rates -- for second-line parades held September 
> through May. The suit 
> invoked the First Amendment right to freedom of speech 
> and expression, 
> claiming that parade permit schemes "effectively tax" 
> such expression. 
> "Should the law not be enjoined," the complaint 
> stated, "there is very 
> little doubt that plaintiff's cultural tradition will 
> cease to exist." 
> At a street-corner press conference a few days after 
> the musicians' 
> arrests, 
> Jerome Smith, who runs the Tremé Community Center just 
> a block from 
> that 
> scene, recounted the history of an embattled 
> neighborhood. He invoked 
> the 
> memory of heavy-handed police intimidation at the 2005 
> St. Joseph's 
> night 
> gathering of Mardi Gras Indians, after which Allison 
> "Tootie" Montana, 
> the 
> "chief of chiefs," famously collapsed and fell dead of 
> a heart attack 
> while 
> testifying at a city council meeting. He referenced 
> the "open scar" of 
> nearby Louis Armstrong Park, for which the city 
> demolished 13 square 
> blocks 
> of the Tremé. He spoke of how, in 1969, the creation 
> of Interstate 10 
> replaced the stately oak trees of Claiborne Avenue, 
> the neighborhood's 
> main 
> thoroughfare, with concrete pillars. 
> On the Sunday following the arrests, Councilman James 
> Carter held a 
> meeting 
> with residents at Smith's center. One neighborhood 
> activist, Al Harris, 
> brought an enlarged copy of a photo, mounted on 
> posterboard, of a 
> Tremé 
> second line in 1925. "We've been doing this a very 
> long time," he said. 
> Carter said that "under no circumstances is it 
> acceptable for police to 
> violate our cultural traditions." He announced plans 
> for a task force 
> organized through his Criminal Justice Committee to 
> propose new city 
> ordinances protecting the cultural practices under 
> fire, and to 
> initiate 
> education and sensitivity training for officers and 
> new residents of 
> Tremé. 
> Such education could have easily been found in some 
> documentaries 
> screened 
> last week during the city's 18th annual film festival. 
> "Faubourg 
> Tremé: The 
> Untold Story Of Black New Orleans," created by 
> filmmaker Dawn Logsdon 
> and 
> Elie, the Times-Picayune columnist, offered a powerful 
> reflection of 
> Tremé 
> as a place of creative ferment and political 
> resistance for some 300 
> years, 
> which included Paul Trevigne's Civil War-era founding 
> of the country's 
> first 
> black newspaper, and the unsuccessful 1896 Supreme 
> Court challenge, in 
> Plessy v. Ferguson, to racial segregation. At one 
> point Elie wondered 
> in the 
> film's narration, "How can our past help us survive 
> this time?" Glen 
> David 
> Andrews, one of the men arrested Oct. 1, was featured 
> playing his horn 
> and 
> as an interview subject. 
> Andrews also figured in "Shake the Devil Off," 
> filmmaker Peter Entell's 
> chronicle of a particularly cruel twist in modern 
> Tremé history: Six 
> months 
> after Katrina, the Archdiocese of New Orleans decided 
> to close the 
> neighborhood's St. Augustine church and to remove its 
> pastor. The 
> historic 
> church was founded in 1841 by slaves and free people 
> of color. After a 
> 19-day rectory sit-in, the parish was restored, 
> provisionally, though 
> its 
> long-term fate remains in question. Near the film's 
> climax, after 
> footage of 
> Jerome Harris and Jesse Jackson speaking to a crowd, 
> the camera moved 
> in on 
> Andrews, who launched into "I"ll Fly Away," offered as 
> call-to-arms 
> rather 
> than memorial. 
> A question-and-answer session following a screening of 
> "Tootie's Last 
> Suit" 
> -- filmmaker Lisa Katzman's gloriously insightful look 
> at the world of 
> Mardi 
> Gras Indians through the story of Tootie Montana's 
> final days -- drew 
> some 
> discussion of the recent Tremé arrests. 
> "We won't bow down," said Sabrina Montana, 
> daughter-in-law of the 
> film's 
> main character, quoting a familiar Indian-song lyric. 
> "This has nothing 
> to 
> do with our disrespect for authority and everything to 
> do with our 
> self-respect. Until what we do is on the city charter, 
> second-line and 
> Mardi 
> Gras Indian assemblies will continue to be threatened 
> by the whims of 
> those 
> who are in authority." 
> Following the public outcry, Sgt. Ronald Dassel of the 
> New Orleans 
> Police 
> Department was quoted in the Times-Picayune saying, 
> "We don't change 
> laws 
> for neighborhoods." But in fact the city does and 
> always has. Special 
> legislation protects the tourist-rich French Quarter, 
> for example. The 
> mostly white Mardi Gras carnival parades command a 
> long list of 
> specific 
> ordinances (including much lower permit fees than for 
> second lines). 
> And a 
> recent judge's order, which some critics consider 
> unconstitutional, 
> delineated police arrest and release protocols for 
> municipal offenses 
> specifically by neighborhood -- with the Tremé among 
> the neighborhoods 
> subject to the sternest treatment. 
> Recently, I was walking along the bayou with Andrews 
> when he ran into a 
> friend. "Did you hear what they're calling you two?" 
> his friend asked, 
> referring to Andrews and Tabb. "The Tremé 2! We're 
> making T-shirts." 
> Andrews winced. "I'm not looking to be somebody's 
> martyr," he said. 
> Sure enough, a couple of T-shirts emblazoned with 
> "Free the Tremé 2" 
> could 
> be seen at Vaughn's bar during a Saturday fundraiser 
> for attorney Carol 
> Kolinchak, to support her pro bono work for Mychal 
> Bell, one of the 
> defendants in the Jena 6 case. Kolinchak is also 
> representing Andrews 
> and 
> Tabb, who are due to appear in court in early 
> December. 
> "Of course, I wouldn't compare the situation they are 
> facing to Mychal 
> Bell's," said Kolinchak. "However, the discretionary 
> decisions by law 
> enforcement and prosecutors -- on how and when to 
> enforce the law -- 
> require 
> attention in both situations. And those issues lie at 
> the heart of the 
> problems surrounding culture in New Orleans." 
> Tabb, the drummer who plays in the Rebirth Brass Band 
> and is raising 
> money 
> to create a nonprofit music school, recoils at the 
> thought of children 
> watching musicians hauled off by police for making 
> music. And he says 
> he 
> thinks Andrews may have been singled out by 
> authorities; in addition to 
> leading his Lazy Six band, Andrews is a ubiquitous 
> presence not only at 
> second lines, but also at civic rallies. 
> New Orleans after Katrina may never fully return 
> without its iconic 
> street 
> culture. And its renewal -- financial as well as 
> spiritual -- may be 
> more 
> closely tied to those traditions than city officials 
> grasp. But those 
> who 
> practice the traditions know it. On Friday, Oct. 5, 
> the nightly 
> memorial 
> procession for Kerwin James wove through the 
> neighborhood, culminating 
> on 
> the very spot of the arrests prior that week. Andrews 
> put down his 
> trombone 
> and sang "I'll Fly Away," as Tabb snapped out beats on 
> his snare. A 
> tight 
> circle surrounded the musicians, as a middle-aged 
> black woman turned to 
> the 
> man next to her. "They say they want to stop this?" 
> she asked softly. 
> "They 
> will never stop this." 
> -- 
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