We're still trying to gather information, but here's what we know right now:
Last night, the NOPD's 8th District quality of life officer and a familiar face in the French Quarter, Roger Jones, shut down the To Be Continued Brass Band as they were playing at their usual spot in the first block of Bourbon Street, just off Canal.
The TBC is a regular sight on the street, a group of young men from the Seventh and Ninth Wards who formed the band as an alternative to the life of crime and drugs on the streets where they grew up. Begun in 2002 at Carver Senior High School, the band was on the cusp of national success when Hurricane Katrina struck, taking out many of their homes and musical instruments. Their story was told in a recent documentary, From the Mouthpiece on Back, and the band -- which has no regular nightclub -- is often the first taste of traditional New Orleans music heard by tourists as they leave their hotels and venture down Bourbon.
Officer Jones told the band that the city was enforcing existing curfews of street performers in the French Quarter, and that the TBC would no longer be allowed to play after 8 p.m. In this video of the incident, everyone -- the officer, the band members, and the bystanders -- treated each other with respect, but the messages were clear:
"We got a new superintendent, we got a new administration, we got a new city council..."
"A lot of people been complaining about it..."
(Bystander: "So Frenchmen and Chartres is out too?")
"Definitely out. I don't know if you saw me out there last Friday night, but that was me."
"You don't have to take this lying down. You have elected officials. Law enforcement. All I'm doing is enforcing the law. ... Just because they make these laws doesn't mean they're set in stone. They could amend that."
"Y'all want to have a meeting with myself and the commander, the door is always open."
The members of the TBC were asked to sign a letter on NOPD letterhead as a "receipt," which outlined the two city ordinances being enforced: the first specifically prohibiting performance on Bourbon Street between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., and the second prohibiting "persons playing musical instruments on public rights-of-way" between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., unless the performance is of "temporary duration" and a permit is obtained.
We've requested a copy of the letter from NOPD, and will be seeking comment today from Superintendent Serpas, Mayor Landrieu and the TBC Brass Band.
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