FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tabitha Mustafa, NOPSC, 504-430-1861, email@example.com
Meg Logue, 350 New Orleans, 860-707-4056, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cherri Foytlin, L’eau Est La Vie, 334-462-4484, email@example.com
BLACK, PALESTINIAN AND TRANS PROTESTERS ARRESTED OUTSIDE OF ALEC ANNUAL MEETING
NEW ORLEANS—Four protesters were arrested by the New Orleans Police Department for trying to enter the Hilton Riverside hotel to call on Governor John Bel Edwards and all Louisiana lawmakers to end all association with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The human rights activists were peacefully exercising their constitutionally protected free speech rights to coincide with the first day of ALEC’s annual meeting.
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the meeting to highlight ALEC’s record of privately drafting legislation with lawmakers and right-wing think tanks on a range of issues that have significantly affected the lives of people of color, and most recently Louisiana House Bill 727 targeting activists fighting the No Bayou Bridge pipeline. Protesters formed a line so that white activists demonstrating where closest to New Orleans Police. Despite this, as a protester negotiated with police, other officers nearby reached back beyond the front line of protesters to forcibly arrest two Palestinian Rights activists who are people of color, and a third person of color who was choked while being arrested, having only been standing peacefully beside other demonstrators moments before. A fourth protester, a water protector from the indigenous-led L’eau Est La Vie camp, was also arrested on the scene. All four protesters have been taken to Orleans Parish Prison and charged with trespass, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest.
Meanwhile, inside the ALEC meeting, white protesters entered the session and stuck protest signs to the walls and interfered with proceedings. When private security called police to arrest the white protesters inside, the police on scene reportedly stated that because of “their calm state,” they declined to arrest them, thus illustrating the everyday operation of race bias in the practices of the New Orleans Police Department.
“Although we were inside the ALEC conference rooms loudly disrupting the meeting, the officer said we appeared ‘calm’, while outside our Black and Brown comrades were being assaulted and thrown in a police van for peacefully expressing their views,” reported two of the white protesters who entered the meeting. This is a blatant example of how white supremacy protects white bodies and white interests while criminalizing and brutalizing people of color and indigenous-led movements.”
“Police approached our group as we sang so I began negotiating with them. Suddenly an officer lunged passed me to snatch three of our protesters, who are people of color,” said Meg Logue of 350 New Orleans and an active member of the No Bayou Bridge coalition who was outside the hotel with the protesters. “What happened today was exemplary of ALEC’s vision for our country — one where corporations write the laws, free speech and dissent are suppressed and people of color pay the highest price”.
“Today, I witnessed four people who were peacefully protesting against ALEC get arrested by NOPD. The ALEC agenda promotes legislation that hurts marginalized communities across the country; it seems almost fitting, sadly, that three of the four individuals arrested today are Black and Brown activists who fight for human rights,” said Saira Mehmood of the New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee.
“Once again we see who really receives protection under the law. ALEC – the villains that destroy lives and attack freedoms all across this country – garners the most protection by the police,” said Cherri Foytlin, Councilperson of the L’eau Est La Vie camp resisting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. “ALEC pays-to-play in our democracy, creating legal systems that benefits corporations, while the poor, Black and Brown communities are criminalized for simply exercising our first amendment rights. It isn’t hard to see the injustice.”
Peace by Piece organizer and protester, Maris Jones, professed, “ALEC alleges to make laws supporting free speech, yet four protesters were violently silenced today by NOPD, Hilton Riverside Management, and ALEC security for exercising those very same rights. We were silenced for speaking out against how ALEC works to perpetuate injustice, lobbies behind closed doors at taxpayer expense, and writes legislation that overwhelmingly negatively impacts the most oppressed communities.”
This week, 350 New Orleans, New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee, L’Est La Vie, and Peace by Piece have been working together to host community events and educational activities under the #AbolishALEC theme to highlight the impact of ALEC on human rights and the environment. The week began with education events including teach-ins and trainings, and culminated in the unplanned arrests of four peacefully protesting activists–specifically targeting Black, Arab, and trans protesters.
350 New Orleans is a volunteer climate activist group connecting our region to the international climate change movement led by 350.org. Our mission is to lend support to initiatives in Louisiana that raise consciousness and promote sound policy around climate change and
It is the mission of the New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity Committee to foster equitable, sustainable, and intersectional community action to support the freedom and empowerment of Palestinians in Palestine and in the Greater New Orleans area.
L’eau Est La Vie camp is an indigenous-led pipeline resistance camp. Although we have no leaders, we value the voices of our indigenous, black, femme, and two spirit organizers. We fight in the bayous of Louisiana, Chata Houma Chittimacha Atakapaw territory, to stop the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, an Energy Transfer Partners project and the tail end of the Dakota Access Pipeline.