Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Lakeview Harbor diners held up at gunpoint

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 10:38 AM

Two armed gunmen held up 20 diners at Lakeview Harbor restaurant Tuesday evening (July 12), New Orleans Police said. - COURTESY LAKEVIEW HARBOR/FACEBOOK
  • Two armed gunmen held up 20 diners at Lakeview Harbor restaurant Tuesday evening (July 12), New Orleans Police said.

Armed gunmen held up a group of diners at a Lakeview restaurant Tuesday, July 12.

According to a preliminary report from New Orleans police, the ambush took place shortly before 11 p.m. when two men clad all in black wearing ski masks barged into Lakeview Harbor (911 Harrison Ave., 504-486-4887) at the end of dinner service.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

"This is what democracy looks like": New Orleans rallies for justice, Black Lives Matter

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 11:20 PM

Thousands of people surrounded Lee Circle as the sun set on New Orleans July 9, nearing the end of a tragic week in the U.S. — the killing of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police, the killing of Philando Castile by Minnesota police during a traffic stop, and a violent night in Dallas ending in the deaths of five officers during a rally calling for an end to police violence in the wake of the two men's deaths. Spanning the base of the Robert E. Lee monument, a banner read "Black Lives Matter."

The message was spread on posters, placards and T-shirts and in call-and-response, fist-in-the-air chants among a peaceful, emotional crowd holding hands, hugging and wiping tears from friends' faces. As the crowd circled the monument, Angela Kinlaw, addressing the crowd with a megaphone, said, "This is what democracy looks like."

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Rally, protest planned in New Orleans following police shootings

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 5:30 PM

Flyer for a rally at Lee Circle July 8.
  • Flyer for a rally at Lee Circle July 8.
Following the killing of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police officers, protests and vigils at the convenience store where he died, and the killing of Philando Castile, shot by police in Minnesota during a traffic stop, plans for protests and vigils are underway in New Orleans.

Event organizers for The 505 — a group named after Sterling as the 505th victim of a police shooting in 2016 — plan a "peaceful performative protest" outside New Orleans Police Department headquarters at 715 S. Broad St. Friday, July 8. It begins at 4 p.m. with a potluck followed by the sound of a gunshot at 5 p.m. to signal participants to lie on the ground until 6 p.m.:
"What police are doing in America today is unacceptable. The aim of this performance is to show our local police force how many people have died this year alone in the hands of their greater organization. We hope that they will see us on the ground as they head home to their families, and see us in their minds the next time they reach for their guns."
There also is a rally at 7 p.m. Friday, July 8 at Lee Circle.

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Big Freedia ordered to halfway house after failing drug test

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 9:30 AM

A federal judge has ordered New Orleans bounce artist and reality TV star Big Freedia to stay at a  halfway house and to suspend all upcoming shows and tours unless approved by the court.  Freedia — who pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in March to using Section 8 housing vouchers despite earning an income that disqualified the artist from receiving them — was ordered by the court to "immediately" submit to substance abuse testing in April. 

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Freedia tested positive for marijuana and methamphetamine. Freedia also will "undergo further substance abuse evaluation" while staying at a Volunteers of America halfway house.

Last month, according to court records, Freedia requested to pay restitution to the court treasury, in advance of Freedia's sentencing in August. The June 9 order reads, "The Court has not yet imposed an order of restitution or made any findings regarding any restitution that may be owed. Accordingly, the Court makes no finding that any amount deposited into the treasury of the Court will satisfy any potential order of restitution." Freedia's sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 11, when Freedia faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Margaret Sanchez pleads guilty in 2012 killing of Jaren Lockhart

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 10:58 AM

The Jefferson Parish Government Center in Gretna. - CREATIVE COMMONS/LEGORIKI
  • The Jefferson Parish Government Center in Gretna.
Margaret Sanchez, 32, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the 2012 stabbing death of Jaren Lockhart, 22, and been given a sentence of 40 years, 40 years and 20 years — the maximum possible sentences — all running concurrently. 

Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna this morning accepted the plea deal worked out between the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's office and Sanchez's attorneys, Anna Friedberg and Cynthia Cimino. 

The plea ends a major chapter in a tragic and lurid local crime case, The reading of the agreement into record included a tearful victim impact statement from Donna Kulick, who is raising Lockhart's young daughter. After speaking of the suffering Lockhart's death had caused, Kulick momentarily appeared to go off-script: "I can't read this next sentence," she said, "At this point in time you're eligible for parole. Justice has not been served: you didn't get life." 

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Monday, June 13, 2016

New Orleans gathers to remember victims of the Orlando shootings

Posted By on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 10:35 AM

Participants at last night's vigil for the Orlando shooting victims formed a human chain along the Mississippi River. - DELLA HASSELLE
  • Participants at last night's vigil for the Orlando shooting victims formed a human chain along the Mississippi River.
A black flag with a rainbow fleur-de-lis fluttered above. Below, a circle of men, women and transgender members of the New Orleans LGBT community stood in silence, cradling flickering candles. Some who gathered at a local vigil Sunday night could be heard sobbing as friends and loved ones tried to offer comfort.

Less than 24 hours after 50 were killed at an Orlando gay dance club — a massacre that is now being called the worst mass shooting in United States history — members of the LGBT community near and far were left reeling.

The loss was deeply felt in New Orleans, as the city’s Pride Week loomed just a week ahead, and as locals were preparing for Labor Day weekend’s Decadence Festival, the city’s largest gay event that’s been tradition for more than 40 years.

As he gave a speech on the Moon Walk next to the Mississippi River, Frank Perez, vigil speaker and member of LGBT+, reiterated a story that resonated among those who had gathered for the impromptu vigil.

Perez, he said, had woken up to the news, which had broken in the wee hours of the morning. Omar Mateen, 29, a Florida man who had reportedly given his allegiance to the Islamic State, had opened gunfire in Pulse, a club known for its outreach as much as for its dancing. Armed with an assault-type rifle and a handgun, according to the Associated Press, Mateen killed 50 and injured another 53 before being shot to death by law enforcement. In the aftermath, local blood banks cited a “dire” need for donations. It was a suspected hate crime.

“Like most of you I went through a series of emotions throughout the day. I was sad, I was angry, I was confused, I was dumfounded,” Perez said. “We want to make sense of these tragedies, and I don’t know if we can.”

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sidney Torres updates crime app, announces new patrol cars and a 'war room'

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 11:30 AM

Sidney Torres and one of the new French Quarter Task Force Smart cars. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Sidney Torres and one of the new French Quarter Task Force Smart cars.

Former garbage king and current crime-fighting real estate developer Sidney D. Torres IV announced a new fleet of vehicles and a "2.0" version of the French Quarter Task Force app he developed last year, described as the "Uber of policing" in the neighborhood.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Louisiana's hate crime law, which already includes police, now includes police. Again.

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 6:05 PM

The first-ever "Blue Lives Matter" bill just became law. Louisiana was the first state to push and successfully sign into law a measure adding first responders (police officers, EMS and firefighters) as a protected class under the state's hate crime law. Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the measure from state Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, today.

The state's hate crime laws strengthen penalties for criminal offenses targeting a person or group's "actual or perceived race, age, gender, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry of that person or the owner or occupant of that property or because of actual or perceived membership or service in, or employment with, an organization." In the state's definition, "organization" also means "any entity or unit of federal, state, or local government" — which covers police officers. 

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Louisiana's next jail scandal

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2016 at 11:03 AM

Apparently Orleans Sheriff Marlin Gusman isn’t the only jailer with a rogue prison on his hands. Last week, Orleans Parish Juvenile Court Judge Mark Doherty ordered officials from the state Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) to appear in his court on May 19 because conditions at their facility in Bridge City are “so out of control that they may rise to the level of being unconstitutional.”

Doherty’s “rule to show cause” is an extraordinary measure, but word has it he’s not alone in his concerns about egregiously unsafe conditions at the Bridge City Center for Youth (BCCY). His May 5 directive cites 15 reasons why he has ordered the release of two youthful offenders from BCCY.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

‘Drunk on violence’: Landrieu gives emotional address on New Orleans’ murder problem

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 10:33 PM

In this file photo, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and NOPD Chief Michael Harrison address the media at a press conference. - ALEX WOODWARD
  • In this file photo, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and NOPD Chief Michael Harrison address the media at a press conference.
As New Orleanians and football fans around the country still reel from the shooting death of Saints defensive end Will Smith, Mayor Mitch Landrieu made an emotional plea to residents to help curb a local murder problem that he said has become “baked in” to the city’s culture.

“We are a city, we are a country that is drunk on violence,” Landrieu told a packed audience at a Tulane University auditorium for his address on violence in New Orleans. “And we need to wake up to this fact.”

Landrieu’s address was given two weeks after Smith was gunned in a car near his wife after being involved in a minor car accident, police said.

The incident prompted widespread reaction from city residents, antiviolence groups and fans near and far. During a second line held in Smith’s honor, several residents called the murder “senseless.”

But Landrieu reminded the crowd that it wasn’t occasional celebrity killings like Smith’s that prompted Louisiana to have the number one homicide rate in the nation.

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