New Orleans’ musicians are organizing a rally in protest after a local brass band musician was arrested on Monday while playing with a band on Frenchman St.
According to the NOPD, Eugene Grant, 27, was arrested on charges of obstructing public passages and resisting an officer. NOPD spokesman Andy Cunningham told Gambit in a statement that offers had asked members of the brass band that Grant was playing with to move to the sidewalk and to not block the entrance to a nearby business. According to Cunningham, Grant then struck one of the officers in the chest with his trumpet, damaging the officer’s body camera.
The charges against Grant have since been dropped.
According to DJ Soul Sister – one of the city’s most well-known DJs – over 10 police cars and 40 police officers responded to the incident.
“I don’t understand why over 10 police cars and over 40 police officers are needed for a complaint against a brass band playing music on Frenchman St! Also, why are people complaining (still) against brass bands playing music on Frenchmen St. Or ANYWHERE in New Orleans?”, she wrote on Twitter.
I don't understand why over 10 police cars and over 40 police officers are needed for a complaint against a brass band playing music on Frenchmen St! Also, why are people complaining (still) against brass bands playing music on Frenchmen St. Or ANYWHERE in New Orleans?
— DJ Soul Sister (@djsoulsister) July 9, 2019
According to a viral Facebook Live video as well as multiple social media reports, the police were called by the owners of Frenchman Art & Books, which has recently come under new ownership.
“Who opens a bookstore on a street famous for being the epicenter of music in New Orleans? Then calls the cops on the brass bands that have been playing for YEARS,” wrote Yelp reviewer Ole O. By Tuesday, the bookstore had only a one-star rating on the platform.
David Zalkind, the owner of the bookstore told OffBeat Magazine that he was frustrated after asking the band to move from in front of the store several times.
“I have nothing against the brass band playing on Frenchmen Street,” Zalkind said. “It’s part of the street culture there. But they block access to our store, which is open until midnight. I asked the band several times to limit their sets to 45 minutes out of an hour, so we’d get 15 minutes of free access to the store, or to even play on the side of the store, but that didn’t work.”
According to a post by the newly-established Facebook page Voices of Local New Orleans Musicians, there will be a second line rally on Sunday in support of Eugene Grant and musician’s rights, beginning at Jackson Square at 2 pm. The second line will march to 600 Frenchman St.
“We are tired and disgusted that our city, this city, think of us as criminals and our instruments weapons,” a statement from the page says. “No more policing the music. We need policies in place to protect our well-being of life. No more paying tickets for parking when you’re working. No more shutting down private porch parties because of live music (permit or no permit)!! We are neighbors now. Love it or leave it. Please I ask all musicians step up and band together (pun intended)!! Until We are in this together, the abuse will continue and this New Orleans will be nothing like our ancestors intended.”
Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor whose work has been featured in publications such as The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_