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Day 942: NOLA Public Housing Complexes Are “Critical Structures” Now?

The Bridge: New Orleans public housing defenders charged under terror law

Mid-way through the protest three housing justice activists—Jamie Laughner, Thomas McManus, and Ezekiel Compton—slipped below a barb wired fence, scaled the metal grating of a two-story public housing apartment building, and situated themselves on the balcony of an unoccupied apartment.

About an hour later the New Orleans police arrived. They forced protesters to move from the sidewalk closest to the apartment building to an area about fifty feet away. After about a half hour police arrested Laughner, McManus and Compton. The three were charged with trespassing, resisting an officer, and unlawful entry into a critical structure.

The “critical structure” law was enacted by the Louisiana legislature in the wake of September 11. The charge of unlawful entry into a critical infrastructure equates civil disobedience with terrorism. Violation is a felony.

Firstly, dissent and protest are as American as baseball and apple pie. If the above article is true, what a waste of court and taxpayer resources. We have real crimes to investigate and prosecute in this state, people!

Next, will the authorities make up their mind? Are the public housing complexes here critical structures or not? If they are about to be demolished, I’d say not. Otherwise, agreement with Jeffrey is in order: the demolitions are then “state sponsored terrorism.” Can’t have it both ways.

The burning question: How in the world did NOPD think of arresting these people based on this particular state law?

3 comments… add one
  • Schroeder March 26, 2008, 2:23 PM

    RS 14.61(c):

    “Nothing in this Section shall be construed to prevent lawful assembly and peaceful and orderly petition for the redress of grievances.”

  • Maitri March 26, 2008, 2:44 PM

    But, Schroeder, you know I’m itching for some serious and effective pitchfork action.

  • Rachel J March 26, 2008, 2:47 PM

    I’m going around to all the NOLA area bloggers/freelancers to let them know about our new book by a local author, the Historic Photos of New Orleans by Melissa Lee Smith. We’d love to send you a complimentary copy for possible review consideration on your blog of this book. This title is done in a large 10×10 format and all images used are culled from several archives that represent rare or never before seen photos of the Crescent City. We’re trying to get the word out to local folks, so I hope you don’t mind me dropping you a line to let you know about our books!

    You can find the author locally on a panel at the French Quarter Fest on April 12th and at Jazz Fest on May 2nd from 2-3pm in the Jazz Fest Book Tent.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Best,
    Rachel Joiner
    Marketing Manager
    http://www.turnerpublishing.com

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