Volunteer group wants to pack heat to help protect French Quarter

Published: Jun. 3, 2014 at 3:06 AM CDT
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Aaron Jordan's plan is to organize a group of licensed, armed volunteers to keep watch over the French Quarter. The primary focus, he said, is to help those in the service industry feel safe, especially late at night.

"They have tips. They have cash, ones, fives and tens," Jordan said. "The whole point of the group is to be armed in order to have that level of safety."

Known as the French Quarter Minutemen, the group would roam the area and be available to escort bartenders, waiters and others get to and from work safely.

"Anyone from the service sector in the French Quarter can call up. We'll have one of our armed escorts come out, walk that person to their car, bus stop or streetcar stop and make sure they get there in one piece."

Jordan, who actually lives in Metairie, said some of the idea comes in response to the attack on French Quarter musician Doug Potter, who was severely beaten in January as he left a Bourbon Street gig.

Tuesday, the minutemen plan to meet with NOPD officials to discuss the idea.

Due to Louisiana's open carry law, Fox 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti said what the group is trying to do, on its surface, is legal.

"The problem may come in when that gun is pulled out, waved at somebody, heaven forbid -- fired at somebody -- that's when a whole bunch of other laws kick in and start applying. That's where the grease hits the fire," Raspanti said.

That's one reason why French Quarter resident and crime blogger Thom Kahler believes, ultimately, the plan could lead to problems.

"If you get a citizen here who thinks he's a marksman or something may not be, and who knows where the bullets are going to go," Kahler said.

However, David Oestreicher, a French Quarter attorney who will serve as the group's legal advisor, said volunteers may not always be carrying weapons. Their intentions, he said, are to thwart the dangers lurking across the city's most famous neighborhood.

"I do not think that it should be considered vigilantism," he said. "I think that it is basically citizens that are frustrated with the lack of safety that exists down here."

Monday, the NOPD did not want to comment on the group's plans.

French Quarter Minutemen organizers encourage those interested in volunteering to contact them via their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/FrenchQuarterMinutemen

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