Updated at 3:49 pm CST
In a coordinated effort between the New Orleans Police Department, Orleans Parish Sherrif’s Office, the SPCA, and city sanitation workers, the homeless are being removed from the French Quarter, as the Mayor touts her recently passed $700 million budget in a press conference.
According to Project NOLA, a nonprofit organization focused on reducing crime throughout the city of New Orleans, NOPD is currently engaging people who are illegally living on the street throughout the French Quarter and arresting trespassers. The OPSO is transporting those individuals to jail via a paddy wagon stationed nearby. Animals owned by the homeless are being taken by the SPCA, and New Orleans Sanitation workers are removing anything else.
The action comes amidst widespread public debate on the growing New Orleans homeless population, and what some refer to as “gutter punks,” transient homeless who consider it to be a lifestyle choice.
According to a statement from Andy Cunningham, spokesperson for the New Orleans Police Department, this is not referred to internally as a “sweep,” or “roundup.” These are part of a regular series of “quality of life checks,” in which NOPD, OPSO, the SPCA, and the city organizations investigate complaints and claims by residents regarding homeless people blocking sidewalks or entryways, checking for weapons or other contraband, preventing aggressive solicitation, and making arrests where necessary. These actions aren’t new and are regularly funded by Sydney Torres’ French Quarter Task Force.
Cunningham states that the majority of the people affected by these checks are not resident homeless, but rather “travelers,” moving from place to place. Though the city offers outreach services to help, in most cases, this help is refused. Any animals taken by the SPCA are fed, bathed, provided with medical treatment, and are often returned to their owners once they have been released from custody.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness. Be sure to check out her other articles and reports here.