(Photos: New Orleans Police Department, Contributed)
Thousands gathered to protest against police brutality in the French Quarter on Friday following the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis Police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest on May 25.
The incident was captured on a viral cell phone video and subsequently spawned several rounds of protests in New Orleans and many more that continue throughout the world more than two weeks after Floyd’s death.
Protesters gathered in front of St. Louis Cathedral early Friday evening and the crowd continue to grow for several more minutes until it expanded onto Decatur Street and Washington Artillery Park, where the main gathering was held.
The peaceful gathering lasted for approximately two hours and included numerous public speakers who decried racism and police violence.
A second gathering of protesters marched peacefully through the French Quarter on Saturday, walking down Esplanade Avenue to North Rampart Street before dispersing at Bienville Street.
In anticipation of the gatherings, the city closed access to Jackson Square proper, which contains the statue of Battle of New Orleans General and seventh U.S. President Andrew Jackson.
The Jackson statue had been the target of Take ‘Em Down NOLA, an activist group that advocates for its removal because its symbolization of white supremacy.
Additionally, several businesses were seen boarded-over, although it was difficult to tell whether it was because of Tropical Storm Cristobal or to prepare in the event the protest devolved into civil unrest.
But despite the rumors of possibly violence or civil unrest in the French Quarter, no such incidents were reported and the NOPD thanked demonstrators for the peaceful protest.
The NOPD closed most of Decatur Street, except for a portion in between Toulouse and Dumaine streets in order to accommodate the protest. Hardly any police were seen, a contrast from last Wednesday’s confrontational protest on the Crescent City Connection Bridge.
The June 3 large group of protesters gathered on Highway 90 and attempted to cross the bridge over the Mississippi River before the NOPD deployed tear gas and other non-lethal ammunition.