Businessess found ‘harboring violent crime’ in New Orleans now face shutdowns

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 5:22 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans City Council on Thursday (Feb. 2) voted to give the police chief authority to shut down nuisance businesses that could be contributing to the city’s crime crisis.

If certain crimes occur on business properties without proper remediation, those businesses may have their licenses suspended for up to two years.

‘If a business is ever going to be shut down, it’s going to be because the judge saw all the criteria and that was the last resort,” said Council Vice President Helena Moreno.

Moreno presented a new law that would give the city and the chief of police the power to suspend the licenses of “chronic nuisance businesses that harbor violent and serious crime.”

A chronic nuisance would be defined as a business that fails to address drug, theft, and violent crimes committed on its property in a timely manner.

As the council debated the nuisance ordinance, concerns were raised about possible unfair enforcement.

Moreno says any business accused of harboring crime would be given appropriate notice, the opportunity to provide remediation plans, and due process including court hearings.

“Even when the intent is good, it seems that African Americans often bear the brunt a lot more than others,” said Councilman Oliver Thomas.

Moreno said the bill will include a reporting element to monitor the racial breakdown of businesses that are shut down.

“We don’t want there to be any accusations of subjectivity. It’s about meeting the criteria,” said Moreno.

The measure received unanimous council support, especially in light of a recent incident where a Baton Rouge bar was shut down after LSU student and Covington native Madison Brooks was allegedly raped after visiting a bar there.

“In light of what happened in Baton Rouge, we have a greater focus. We must make sure this is enforced equitably and evenly,” said Councilman Joe Giarrusso.

The new nuisance law will not apply to residential properties, only businesses.

The measure provides for a business to be shut down for up to two years and possibly face civil penalties if it has been declared a nuisance by a civil court judge, and padlocked by police.

Moreno said she modeled the statute after a similar law, put in place in Baltimore, by former New Orleans police chief Michael Harrison.

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