Activism

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

New Orleans City Planning Commission recommends 'soft cap' on Bourbon Street strip clubs

Posted By on Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 8:00 PM

Club workers and allies filled the Rosenwald Center to oppose limits on the number of clubs on Bourbon Street.
  • Club workers and allies filled the Rosenwald Center to oppose limits on the number of clubs on Bourbon Street.

With more than 200 strip club workers and advocates filling a makeshift meeting room inside the Rosenwald Center’s gym Feb. 6, the New Orleans City Planning Commission (CPC) rejected parts of a plan from the New Orleans City Council to limit the number of strip clubs on Bourbon Street.

The CPC instead followed recommendations from its staff that call for a “soft cap” of 14 clubs, rather than a harder cap limiting clubs to one per block face, as the City Council had proposed in its pitch for the CPC to study its feasibility.

The CPC’s recommendations now head to the City Council, which could adopt them into the city's Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.

Today’s hearing follows raids of eight Bourbon Street clubs last month by the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control and the New Orleans Police Department, resulting in suspended alcohol licenses and some club closures, and a loss of income for hundreds of out-of-work dancers, bartenders and others club workers and their families in what otherwise is a lucrative Carnival season.

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Friday, February 2, 2018

'Let us dance': Protesting strip club workers take over Bourbon Street for the second time this week

Posted By on Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 1:08 AM

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Under the neon daiquiri-shop lights and to the cheers of barkers in bad suits, hundreds
of gentlemen's club workers and allies converged for a march that filled Bourbon Street.

The Feb. 1 event was the second in as many days organized by workers to protest investigations and raids of eight gentlemen's clubs in January, which resulted in suspended liquor and tobacco licenses. Without the ability to sell alcohol, several clubs temporarily shuttered, leaving dancers, managers, bartenders, hosts and cleaning staff out of work.

Holding glittery signs, an American flag and in one case, a platform shoe, the demonstrators chanted "I am not a victim," "Let us work," "Bourbon Street, not Sesame Street" and "Stripper's rights are human rights." They progressed from Mango Mango Daiquiris on the 400 block of Bourbon Street to the intersection of Bourbon and Canal, where the march briefly became an impromptu dance party to Shawn Mendes' "There's Nothing Holding Me Back."

The demonstration filled several blocks and was so large that tourists and onlookers were pressed to the sidewalks, where many of them began filming the event with their phones.

As she held a sign that said "Your political agenda shouldn't cost me my future," one dancer who gave her name as Jessie criticized the raids, saying they were a misguided effort that failed to uncover the human trafficking they were designed to unearth.

"The only thing that happened is you're costing us our livelihood," she said. "They always have to vilify something."

At a press conference Monday, New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) officials stood firm behind the idea that the investigations and subsequent raids were linked to anti-human-trafficking efforts in the city.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sites of Resistance chronicles New Orleans' history of dissent

Posted By on Thu, Feb 1, 2018 at 9:30 AM

PHOTOS COURTESY SUE MOBLEY
  • PHOTOS COURTESY SUE MOBLEY

An interactive exhibit at Tulane University's Small Center has challenged the narrative of New Orleans' history that obscures its history in the streets — framing the city's history of dissent as an essential part of the fabric of the American experience and the constant struggle for change.

"A lot of it came out of a conversation or series of conversations about New Orleans not being a place where people protested," says Sue Mobley, lead curator of Sites of Resistance: An Exhibit Exploring the Geographies + Histories of Social Change in New Orleans. "That’s a shocking assumption that ties to this larger ‘New Orleans-as-exceptional’ narrative, that New Orleans is incomparable and somehow removed from larger patterns about how people live and make change."

Sites of Resistance is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design (1725 Baronne St.). It closes with a reception from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6 with a lecture from Adolph Reed Jr. on "Black Politics in New Orleans and Beyond."

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Strip club workers drown out Bourbon Street infrastructure press conference

Posted By on Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 5:28 PM

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A Jan. 31 press conference about the Bourbon Street infrastructure redevelopment turned cacophonous when a group of gentlemen's club workers and their allies staged a demonstration, drowning out city and tourism officials.

Holding signs that said "Why the celebration?? Strippers are out of work," "We are workers, not political pawns" and simply "Can you not?", a group of at least 70 workers gathered behind officials on the 300 block of Bourbon Street, blocked by a few scattered New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers. As the conference began (and cameras rolled), workers began to chant, rendering officials' statements almost inaudible.

The conference, which was announced late Jan. 30, was called to celebrate progress on the ongoing construction on Bourbon Street and to "remind residents and visitors that [Bourbon Street] is open for business," according to a city press release. But as Department of Public Works director Dani Galloway cited project developments, including completion of major construction on the 100-800 blocks of Bourbon, enhanced water pressure in fire hydrants and other developments meant to improve public safety on the street, workers broke in with chants of "Worker's rights are women's rights," "Their body, their choice" and "Sex work is real work."

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Strip club workers planning marches to protest recent ATC raids

Posted By on Sat, Jan 27, 2018 at 5:36 PM

CREATIVE COMMONS / CHRIS LITHERLAND
  • CREATIVE COMMONS / CHRIS LITHERLAND

Workers at several Bourbon Street gentlemen's clubs are planning demonstrations next week to protest recent Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC) raids that have temporarily shuttered several establishments.

As reported by the New Orleans Advocate and The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com, the raids  affected eight clubs including Dixie Divas, Rick's Sporting Saloon, Scores and Temptations and resulted in suspended alcohol licenses at several venues on and around Bourbon Street.

But closures that stemmed from the raids put hundreds of people out of work over the course of an evening, Rick's Sporting Saloon general manager Lee Laurent says. Laurent is one of the workers helping organize club employees for demonstrations on Bourbon Street, with a primary march set for the evening of Thursday, Feb. 1.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hospitality workers plan Jan. 21 sexual harassment workshop

Posted By on Tue, Jan 16, 2018 at 10:00 AM

A sign at a 2017 rally hosted by New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee.
  • A sign at a 2017 rally hosted by New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee.

New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee (NOHWC), the grassroots organization which advocates for workers' rights in the local restaurant and hotel industry, hosts a workshop on fighting sexual harassment and assault Jan. 21.

This workshop — part of a national conversation about sexual misconduct that has roiled many kitchens and toppled several prominent chefs — is focused on workers, rather than management strategies. There are planned discussions of what to do one when one experiences sexual harassment; how to hold management, coworkers and customers accountable; and how to confront sexual harassment in the moment, for both people experiencing harassment and bystanders.

"That's really the only way to change it; if you just call people out in the moment it's going to send a strong message," NOHWC organizer Lita Farquhar says. "If you keep doing it over and over again, every time it happens, I think it's going to send a strong message."

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Women's March returns Jan. 20, with a few changes

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Protesters at Duncan Plaza at 2017's Women's March. - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • Protesters at Duncan Plaza at 2017's Women's March.

At last year's Women's March in New Orleans, thousands of worried people took to the streets, joining worldwide protests for gender equality and against just-inaugurated President Donald Trump. The march returns Jan. 20 to renew its call for women's rights under this administration — as well as the rights of people of color, immigrants, disabled people, LGBT people, workers and other groups national organizers see as threatened by the current political climate.

"We have to come back this year because we're worse off than we were a year ago," says Angela Adkins, president of the National Organization for Women's (NOW's) Baton Rouge chapter and an organizer of the New Orleans Women's March. "These are definitely some scary times we're living in."

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Comedy shows Jan. 18 and 20 benefit New Orleans Abortion Fund

Posted By on Thu, Jan 11, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Comedian Sean Patton performs at Night Church. - PHOTO BY JONGUNNAR GYLFASON
  • PHOTO BY JONGUNNAR GYLFASON
  • Comedian Sean Patton performs at Night Church.

Two comedy shows
next week benefit New Orleans Abortion Fund (NOAF), the organization which advocates for and helps defray the cost of abortion access for local women.

At Night Church, the weekly Thursday-night show at Sidney's Saloon, donations for NOAF are accepted to see a slate of local comedians including Mary-Devon Dupuy, Chris Lane, Addy Najera, Camille Roane and Kamari Stevens. Chicago guest comedians Gina Gephardt and Geoffrey Asmus also appear, and Paul Oswell and Benjamin Hoffman host. There's also, as usual, free ice cream.

Resistance Is Fertile: A Comedy Show and Dance Party takes place Jan. 20 at Poor Boys Bar. Chris Lane hosts comedians Roane, Ashleigh Branch, Saya, Moxie Rogue and TK Fairley, with a dance party after the show. The event is scheduled to follow this year's Women's March, which takes place earlier that afternoon.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Twelve Mile Limit hosts #MeToo speakout Jan. 16

Posted By on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 10:00 AM

ERNEST DUFFOO / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0
  • ERNEST DUFFOO / CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0

Twelve Mile Limit and Me Too NOLA host another open mic on sexual harassment and assault Jan. 16.

The event is the second in a series designed to raise awareness of gender-based harassment and violence, and features speakers relaying personal experiences related to the #MeToo campaign. Actors and volunteers also will read stories from people who are interested in sharing, but don't wish to be identified.

The event begins at 7 p.m. and runs til 10 p.m. Participants are encouraged to bring a friend.

For more on New Orleans' take on the #MeToo moment, see this week's cover story.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Bike Easy is looking for some 'ambassadors' to advocate for cyclists and pedestrians

Posted By on Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Bike Easy members gather at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
  • Bike Easy members gather at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Transit advocacy group Bike Easy has put out a call for applications for its Complete Streets Ambassador program, which trains community members to advocate for cyclists, pedestrians and people who take public transit. The three-month, relatively low-commitment program accepts applications through Feb. 2.

After taking part in a weekend training, Complete Streets Ambassador participants will spend about three hours each week working on neighborhood projects, telling their transportation story at community meetings and collaborating on Bike Easy initiatives. It'd probably be a good way to dip a toe in community organizing and to learn about grassroots activism.

Ambassadorship applicants should regularly walk, bike or ride the bus in the greater metropolitan area and have an interest in developing neighborhood groups. People of color and people with low incomes are especially encouraged to apply; a few small ($400) stipends are available.

Previous Complete Streets Ambassadors built a pop-up protected bikeway on St. Bernard Avenue and lobbied for protected bike lanes in Kenner neighborhoods.

The program is part of Bike Easy's greater Complete Streets initiative, which encourages more equitable transit in New Orleans neighborhoods. "Complete streets" are designed with the safety and well-being of every kind of transit user in mind, including pedestrians, people on bikes and motorists.

An application for the program is available online. Applications also can be submitted to rob@bikeeasy.org or to Bike Easy's offices at 2100 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

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