Busting open-air costume sales is not fixing the city’s problems: an open-air letter to Mayor Landrieu and Police Chief Serpas
Dear Mayor Landrieu, Police Chief Serpas,
I was very disappointed to read that police and/or agents from the City’s Department of Revenue have shut down an open-air costume sale in a Frenchman Street nightclub. New Orleans has many extremely serious problems. Unlicensed costume vending is not generally considered to be among them.
This occurrence is particularly distressing given the wave of extreme violent crimes which have occurred less than a mile from the club where Ms. McCree was selling costumes. The NOPD faces a serious crisis of legitimacy from its inability to keep our citizens safe. Such actions reinforce the cynical view, which many of our citizens hold, that the NOPD does little more than revenue collection.
It feels odd to remind both of you that our city is known for its laissez-faire lifestyle and culture. The use of commercial spaces for multiple uses is important for our rich cultural life. It is also clear that “special event” permit fees are too high for many independent businesspersons like Ms. McCree to afford, and represent repression of small businesses. Small entrepreneurs are not likely to obtain expensive, obscure licenses for simple events, and killing cultural events like costume sales does not build the cultural economy upon which our city depends economically.
It is also odd that the City of New Orleans is hassling Ms. McCree, whose fashion innovations via “Righteous Fur” have earned the city rare good press in New York City and other locations, instead of the usual stories of, among other things, being the murder capital of the nation. You would think that the City of New Orleans would recognize that Ms. McCree is a cultural ambassador of the creativity of our citizens, and a treasure.
I encourage both of you to get your priorities straight, to deal with the real criminals and to leave artists and impromptu events on Frenchman Street alone.