Mid-way through the protest three housing justice activistsâ€”Jamie Laughner, Thomas McManus, and Ezekiel Comptonâ€”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 â€œcritical structureâ€ 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?