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(By Friends and Families of Lousiana's Incarcerated Children) If there was ever any doubt that the criminal justice system would be used to keep Black New Orleanians from returning, the last few months have eliminated the last of it. With 300 National Guardsman called in to patrol (with M-16s which are “locked and loaded”) the empty streets of the neighborhoods where the lack of infrastructure has slowed efforts to rebuild, the NOPD has been able to turn its attention to “protecting” the neighborhoods that have been rebuilt. By consistently profiling, harassing and arresting poor people of color, NOPD are now making over 140 arrests per week. The vast majority of these arrests are for minor violations, including spitting on a sidewalk. The kinds of charges being put on people – resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, battery on a police officer - speak more to the tension between NOPD and community than to public safety.

The rise in NOPD arrests occurs at a moment when the Orleans Parish Prison is becoming made increasingly dangerous by its overcrowding and lack of adequate health care. Harsh criticism from national media and lawyers of Sheriff Gusman’s operation of OPP has not stopped him from opening new “temporary” beds at breakneck speed and sending hundreds of prisoners up to the state penitentiary in Angola to try and keep up with the new arrests.

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