In March of 2018, New Orleans’ tricentennial year, a group of strippers and our allies were able to overturn by a single vote a zoning ordinance meant to thin and cap the number of “Adult Live Performance Venues” (strip clubs) in the seven-block pedestrian area of Bourbon Street. This was one day after the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA/SESTA) was passed by the Senate. Every narrow local victory is inevitably chased by the kind of overly broad threats whose consequences take years to comprehend.
With the mainstream American media’s focus on the most recent migrant caravan, the proposed wall along the border with Mexico, and the federal government shutdown, it could be easy to lose sight of the reality that there is a long history of migrant caravans crossing the borders between the Americas. Many who recently arrived from Central America are petitioning the federal government for asylum from the terror of narcotrafficker death squads, which the U.S. government had a large role in creating. Others have been here longer, living at the margins of immigration status, without official documentation or permission. Either way, one thing is clear: for those of us who seek to destroy the border, robust mutual aid for immigrants living among us is absolutely necessary.
Sitting in a car late at night during in Tijuana, the mando único patrol rolls by—three vehicles of state police, federales, and soldiers. The trucks slow down to a stop. Fifteen men in balaclavas wielding assault rifles order the occupants out of the car. The officers surround them and pat them down, making a mess of the back seat and glove compartment. No one know what’s going to happen next, but after they see US passports, they ask some cursory questions and leave, this time without a bribe.
On January 2nd, a few writers for the Shotgun travelled to the home base of L’eau Est La Vie (LELV) – a pipeline resistance camp in Indian Bayou, Louisiana. Founded in November 2017, LELV is collectively owned by an indigenous women’s council that has guided the principles and strategy for the fight against the construction of Bayou Bridge Pipeline (BBP). Owned by Energy Transfer Partners, BBP is the final 163-mile stretch of the transcontinental pipeline which includes the well-known Bakken/Dakota Access Pipeline. This past summer heated up with months of direct action in defense of people and waterways affected by BBP including the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest remaining wetland and swamp in the United States. The new “Critical Infrastructure Law,” passed in July, has already resulted in over a dozen felony arrests. While still maintaining the goal of stopping the pipeline, the campaign has shifted its focus to long term engagement with communities most affected, as well as transforming a pipeline resistance camp into a land project and community space. This interview (which has been edited for length) primarily focuses on the last five months of the campaign against BBP. The following conversation is between Cherri, an indigenous water protector and co-founder of LELV and Alex, a Texas based anarchist who has been present at LELV for much of the last two years.
Blackness has long been attractive to edgy white American artists, but New Orleans seems a magnet for a certain kind of shameless, tone-deaf racist art scammer. In 2014, one wealthy New Orleans white woman in her fifties gave herself the name “Ti-Rock Moore” and launched a successful art career founded on depicting Black suffering and racist imagery.
In an interview with nola.com arts writer Doug MacCash, Moore said her “privileged” white upbringing gives her an “acute” perspective on American racism. Moore made news in 2015 when some less acute viewers took issue with her life-size rendering of Ferguson police-violence victim Michael Brown’s corpse, which she’d arranged face-down on an art gallery floor. Condemnation came from many quarters, including Brown’s father, who called the artwork “disgusting.”
Moore was unfazed. “I know how necessary this art installation is,” she said. “I know it’s important.”
For several months, massive protests, occupations, and blockades have rippled across the entirety of France. The Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) movement first arose out of anger over a proposed increase in taxes on diesel fuel, something many French citizens outside large cities rely on, but quickly morphed into a general opposition to the French Government, especially current president Emmanuel Macron.
After an initial protest on November 17, 2018 in Paris, massive riots have engulfed most French cities each and every Saturday on a scale not seen in the country since the near-insurrection of May 1968. At the same time, occupations and blockades of roads and roundabouts across the country sprang up. The majority have maintained their presence to this day.
Several Shotgun correspondents recently returned from traveling in France to better understand the Yellow Vests movement and what lessons we might take from it here in New Orleans.
The Shotgun is thrilled to present an exclusive and entirely real roundtable with honored representatives from Eris, Witches and Heiress, three of downtown’s most notorious underground parades. Eris has been around since 2005, with Witches coalescing in 2012 and Heiress forming in 2013 in the wake of (and partly in reaction to) the 2011 NOPD assault on Eris. We spoke to these anonymous spokesfolx about how their no-throwing bullshit parades have been adapting to the changing landscape of New Orleans.
SHOTGUN: Can you start us off by describing your 2019 theme?
ERIS: Our theme for the year is “The Triumph of Safety.” It’s what we spend the bulk of our meetings obsessing neurotically over, and of course Eris is the Goddess of playing it safe.
That said, there were some within Eris who felt “The Splendor of Silent Respect” was an important theme, and since we’re all pathologically conflict-averse we did our best to accommodate that by folding these themes into one another, like a beautiful lacework polyhedron woven by iridescent caterpillars wearing tiny flower crowns.