Frenchmen Street, Again

Traffic on Frenchmen Street continues to grow; it has become the party street outside Bourbon Street,  but with little police presence.

The Frenchmen Marigny Triangle Business Association (FMTBA), now headed by Maison co-owner Jeff Bromberger, continues to lobby for a more robust NOPD presence on the street, to no avail. In a meeting earlier this week with Councilperson Kristin Gisleson Palmer and NOPD 8th District Commander Nick Gernon, Bromberger and Allen Johnson, current President of the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association, once again broached the subject of an increasing the police presence on Frenchmen. But Gernon says that there simply is just not enough manpower to adequately police Frenchmen Street.

We’ve heard this for several years. It’s high time that the city recognizes that stationing NOPD on Frenchmen regularly can do nothing but good for the health of the businesses on the street, and, of course, protect the ever-growing crowds that patronize the bars there.

The FMTBA has funded (via a few of members) a private patrol on weekends—it’s the only way there’s any type of oversight over illegality on the street—although the private patrol has no ability to actually arrest anyone or enforce the rule of law. It’s a stop-gap measure taken by several Frenchmen business owners to keep their businesses and patrons safe (most businesses on Frenchmen Street now also operate surveillance cameras as well).

The lack of police, and the relative “wild west” nature of Frenchmen hasn’t stopped businesses from continuing to open on Frenchmen. Rubens Leite, who operates Favela Chic (which has a small location on both Frenchmen as well as Chartres) is apparently taking over the entire old Café Brasil space at the corner of Frenchmen and Chartres. Should be interesting if the brass band that currently plays on that corner—or the other musicians who amplify their music in the wee hours of the morning (against the law, by the way)—try to block the entrance to that corner entrance (Leite had some serious run-ins with the members of the brass bands some years back).

Rare Form, the small bar at the corner of Frenchmen and Esplanade, has closed and is being transformed into a restaurant and bar, NOLA Cantina; reportedly it will also present live music.

To prove their point, Frenchmen Street businesses (perhaps through the FMTBA) would do well to conduct a survey of visitors to the street, as well as business owners and musicians, to be very identify the problems  and opportunities on Frenchmen. This would certainly provide hard data to present to the city administration so that it will recognize and address these issues. It’s a shame to have an entertainment district as popular as Frenchmen Street without adequately addressing the problems that inevitably arise when crowds congregate—especially crowds that are drinking and partying heavily. Unless the city acknowledges the fact that Frenchmen deserves a police presence, and then makes a concerted effort to actually assign officers on a regular basis to patrol the street (and the Marigny in general), it could be a ticking time bomb that could have devastating consequences. Pull a couple of police from Bourbon Street and put them on Frenchmen in the meantime. Or work out a way to carve out a district where a small tax can help to fund protection on the street, similar to what’s been done in the French Quarter. This is a no-brainer.

  • kmsoap

    Could you be a little more specific in your call for policing? If we’re talking about muggers and rapists running rampant on Frenchmen Street, I’m all in. But I don’t think that’s what is happening. The FMTBA patrol is just a dressed up version of the woman calling the police on the guy in the park who was grilling while black or the woman who threatened to call the police on the 8 year old girl selling water. It is selective policing of specific individuals directed by club owners. More often than not this has a racial subtext. The only difference between those callers and the club owners is that the club owners don’t want to soil their own hands or reputations, so they hire someone to do their dirty work.

    NOPD is telling you, politely, that they can’t do that kind of work since the consent decree was put in place. And that’s not a bad thing.

  • John Preston Gómez

    This article sucks. No interviews with artists, a calling for a more robust police presence while providing no data about crime which I have never thought was a big problem on Frenchman and one of the few people interviewed for the articles is Ruebens who is a known racist.

  • Donnie

    Really bad article. I would think off beat would have a lil respect towards musicians.

  • dat_MF

    Street vendors have been banned from selling our goods on FRI & SAT nights… and that affects us dramatically!!! These private patrol men are off-duty cops — you can SAY that they don’t have the power to enforce the law, but they’ve been extremely aggressive towards vendors & have even called their co-workers (NOPD) to come write summons, evacuate and/or arrest some of the vendors. It’s ludicrous!