Editor’s note: This piece has been updated to include a response from Deutsches Haus.
On Sunday, Deutsches Haus hosted the 6th annual New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic (NOMC) blood drive. The New Orleans Abortion Fund (NOAF) was scheduled to volunteer at the event, but say that they were asked to leave after only an hour.
According to an update on NOAF’s Facebook page, NOAF was asked to leave after about an hour of tabling at the blood drive because their participation “was in violation of the event space’s rules about ‘political controversy’.”
“We continue to support the NOMC and their fantastic blood drive initiative, and we are grateful to have been invited to participate. We encourage you to show up and donate blood, but know that NOAF will not be there,” the post states.
The New Orleans Musician’s Clinic issued the following response:
“NOMC had no prior knowledge of policies precluding the presence of organizations that are deemed ‘political controversy’ prior to the event and NOAF was asked by Deutsches Haus to leave.
“Our view is that access to abortion is a multi-faceted medical and social services issue, not a political controversy. As a women-run direct service and advocacy organization, we are not able to produce future events at spaces that do not share in our values of inclusivity and advocacy for underserved communities.”
A search of the Deutsches Haus bylaws didn’t turn up any rules relating to political controversy. However, Big Easy Magazine did find the following in the charter for the organization:
“No substantial part of the activities of the Corporation shall be the carrying on of propaganda, and the Corporation shall not participate in or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office. “
It was apparently this clause that prevented the group from allowing NOAF to continue their presence at the blood drive. This same clause has been a source of controversy in the past for Deutsches Haus. In 2016, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke chose to campaign at the Deutsches Haus Oktoberfest held in Kenner, handing out blue and white hats proclaiming, “Vote for Duke and Trump!” According to Deutsches Haus, the above clause prevented them from asking Duke to leave the event, though they did ask that he refrain from handing out any material.
When Big Easy Magazine reached out to Deutsches Haus about their decision to remove NOAF from the blood drive, we received the following response:
“This past Sunday, Deutsches Haus donated the use of our facility for the 6th Annual New Orleans Musicians Clinic & Organ Grinders Blood Drive. It is important to our organization to strive for political and social neutrality in order to maintain our ability to welcome all. At the start of the event, it was discovered that one group’s purpose was determined to be outside of our nonaligned boundaries, which is why we asked to take down their material.
Unfortunately, some believed this was an unfair judgment and disapproval of their cause which was not our intention. We are sincerely sorry for any offense this caused and hope that we can mend this misunderstanding. We ask that you accept our apology and understand that no harm was meant.
Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor currently serving as Editor-in-Chief of Big Easy Magazine. Her work has also been featured in publications such as Wander N.O. More, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_