Mardi Gras 2012 nets 170 curfew arrests

Anissa Ford's picture

Mardi Gras officials have banned children 16 and under from Bourbon Street this year.

The idea isn't so much that teens are the cause of Mardi Gras trouble and arrests, but that people under 16 need to be protected from crime and becoming victims of crime in the French Quarter.

Consequently, children under the age of 16 can't be on Bourbon Street after 8 p.m. during the Mardi Gras festivals. Some have said the curfew on adolescents is a racist law. The curfew was pushed by the New Orleans city council back in January. Ideally, what happens to adolescents found in the French Quarter by police is that they're taken to a curfew center.

At the curfew center, police telephone the child's parents. The parents than come to the center to retrieve their children. As it stands, police ware randomly searching and seeking out adolescents and young people and removing them from the celebrations. During the most recent Mardi Gras celebrations, 170 arrests have been made for violating curfew. That totals 20 percent of all Mardi Gras participants.

Police say that parents aren't complaining about the curfew now. But in the early stages of the implementing the law, the curfew had its critics. Opponents of the curfew said that minorities would be targeted. Opponents said that historically, minority youth are disproportionately arrested and charged with crimes. Opponents also argued the curfew was unfair because the curfew is only effect in certain parts of the city.

The curfew has been in effect since January. Mardi Gras celebrations began February 4. Adolescents are welcome throughout the Quarter as long as they're with parents or adults.

New Orleans city council and law enforcement didn't waver on their curfew decision. Officials don't believe that there is justification or sufficient explanation to allow children under 16 to witness Mardis Gras' more risque side.

There are two more days of celebration and parades listed for Mardi Gras today and tomorrow. Tomorrow, Krews of Tucks (which first started as a parade of Loyola University students), Krews of Proteus, Orpheus and Zeus also march. Proteus is the second oldest parade in the history of Mardi Gras. Proteus has an Egyptian mythology theme. Orpheus typically features 1,200 paraders and celebrity guests. Zeus has 350 male riders and 25 floats. The parades are scheduled in various places.

Tomorrow there are seven parades scheduled throughout the city.

You can get a full look at the schedule here as well as information on the history of parades and floats.

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