Friday evening, much of New Orleans waited with bated breath in hopes the protest in the French Quarter would be peaceful. The rest of the city attended. Thousands rallied in front of Jackson Square in a remarkable show of solidarity against racism.
- by Ellis Anderson
Many French Quarter businesses began boarding up the prior day, although most had just taken down plywood panels to reopen for the COVID shutdown. Some cited the incoming tropical storm, others expressed anxiety over rumors that "outside agitators" might loot and set fires. Everyone we spoke with agreed that if there was "trouble," it wouldn't be caused by New Orleanians. Opinions seemed evenly split between which outsiders might ignite violence: neo-Nazi white supremacists or far-left anti-fascists.
This protest-centered art appeared on St. Ann Street Friday afternoon, just a few hours before the protest.
Map of Jackson Square showing main protest areas.
At the Little Toy Shop on the St. Ann side of Jackson Square, artist Josh Wingerter - who became locally famous during the COVID shutdown because of his plywood art - finished several new pieces.
Josh also painted the cart of a Jackson Square artist.
Jackson Square park closed earlier than usual on Friday. Protesters called for the removal of the statue of Andrew Jackson in the center, a point of contention for several years. Although Andrew Jackson is credited with saving the city of New Orleans during the War of 1812, the general, and later president of the United States, was a slave-owner. He also advocated for and signed the infamous Indian Removal Act, which led directly to the "Trail of Tears."
Police presence appeared parade-crowd minimal, with officers in regular uniform.
The crowd at 6pm, as seen from Washington Artillery Park, situated between Jackson Square and the Mississippi River.
Friday would have been Breonna Taylor's 27th birthday and several protesters carried signs commemorating the fact.
The far corners of the square were barricaded, but easily passed through. Diners on Muriel's balcony had a bird's eye view of the event. The restaurant recently reopened to limited dining after the COVID shutdown.
Protesters filtered through the square toward Decatur Street.
Many had ridden bikes, while a few opted for other modes of transportation.
This group was heading toward the square through Pirate Alley, past William Faulkner's former residence (now Faulkner Bookstore).
Posters offered to protestors.
Many protesters carried handmade signs.
The vast majority of protesters wore masks to prevent the spread of COVID.
The crowd swelled as organizers began addressing them.
The St. Peter side of Jackson Square, from Decatur Street
Decatur Street on the St. Ann side of Jackson Square.
Protesters on top of Washington Artillery Park.
Some protestors came prepared to help.
Others provided food and refreshments.
NOLA Allies and Support offered first aid, water, sanitizer and free masks.
Queen Cherice Harrison-Nelson, of the Guardians of the Flame Maroon Society, who was volunteering at the aid station, posed with a passing protestor.
A protestor's car parked in front of an aid station.
Around sunset, some protesters headed for home, while more joined the group.
A balcony observer in the St. Ann Street Pontalba building.
Around sunset, a group of musicians set up on Jackson Square. The couple on the right distributed free bottled water to demonstrators. After dark, organizers led the protestors to the banks of the Mississippi River to sit and contemplate.
This view from our FQJ office on Chartres Street, around 10:30pm. Most of the protestors had left the French Quarter and the streets were COVID quiet. Note the absence of any trash, despite the crowd of thousands passing through. Mostly young people, they had come wanting to make the world, their country and our city a better, more peaceful place.
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