Disabled Retired Army Officer Victim of A Hate Crime
Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the New Orleans hospitality industry has been booming back. In 2013, about $6.5 billion dollars in revenue was produced. About 250 business owners and bosses reaped the benefits from this recovering industry that employs about 81,000 people. A minimum of $650 million was profited. On the other hand, the working people of the French Quarter and hospitality industry, who together produced these millions of dollars of profit, only received meagre wages from their labor.
The rich millionaires who dominate the hospitality industry in New Orleans are white men. One of their organizations is the French Quarter Business Association (FQBA). In fall of 2013, the FQBA’s officers, Jeremy DeBlieux, President; Robert Watters, Vice President; along with Steven Caputo, General Manager of the Bienville House Hotel, successfully opposed a Black person, particularly, a Black woman, from obtaining the last permit needed to operate her business in the French Quarter through their dictatorial connections with the New Orleans City and Louisiana State government. Watters, as the chair of the French Quarter Management District, a Louisiana State agency, interfered with Ms. Tracy Riley’s right to access a permit which is a violation of the new hate crime prevention law of 2009 Title 18 U.S. Code 249. Watters is also the owner of Rick’s Cabaret, an adult entertainment-bar located at 315 Bourbon Street.
In early July 2013, Tracy Riley, an African American woman, retired U.S. Army Major and disabled veteran, attempted to establish a supper club at 300 Decatur Street. The name of the supper club is called The Rouge House. In the process of opening the business (getting city/state permits, etc.), Ms. Riley was met with opposition by arrogant hotel employees of the Bienville House Hotel. The Bienville House Hotel, a division of the Monteleone Hotel on Royal Street, is located at 320 Decatur Street. These Bienville House Hotel employees deployed a nuisance spying expedition of The Rouge House to inaccurately submit allegations for opposition of The Rouge House alcohol permit. Refusing to be intimidated, Ms. Riley continued to pursue her objective.
Later in July 2013, Ms. Riley was granted a special event permit to operate The Rouge House during the Essence Music Festival. According to the FQBA, the permit was granted with several provisions: No loitering, All music contained inside, All doors and windows closed, Waiting lines to get in prohibited. These provisions were not adhered to as the FQBA alleged. Hence, the FQBA and the Bienville House Hotel would petition the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control to deny Ms. Riley a permanent alcohol beverage permit. During the week of Essence Festival, the Rouge House attracted so many Black visitors that Decatur Street was swarmed with guests. Business greed and white chauvinist jealousy appeared to be the real motive behind denying Ms. Riley’s business, The Rouge House supper club, a permanent permit.
Although Ms. Riley has been denied due process for this unjust action, she is fighting back. She has appealed to the Civil District Court to protect and assert her democratic right for her argument to be heard in court. And she has taken steps to popularize this injustice against her. However, instead of the state upholding and speeding up her democratic right to due process, the state officials have purposely delayed her request. The state officials in league with the white millionaires of the French Quarter businesses appear to be attempting to force Ms. Riley to submit to their will and stop Ms. Riley from ever opening a Black owned supper club.
Why does the French Quarter Business Association oppose The Rouge House?
Within the approximate 72-square-block French Quarter, about 9.2 million people visit annually. Visitors spend from $500 to $900 each. Hotels, restaurants, drinking spots, strip joints, music venues, artists vendors, souvenir shops, parades, festivals, etc., compete for this tourist dollar.
The city’s annual, multi-million dollar events are: Mardi Gras, the Sugar Bowl, Essence Fest, Jazz Fest, French Quarter Festival events, and National Football League-New Orleans Saints games. Alongside these regular events are the hundreds of conventions and special attractions that the city hosts. Like the illegal drug merchants, the rich billionaires and millionaires who own the facilities (banks, hotels, cruise ships, casinos, restaurants, etc.) to accommodate the visitors to the French Quarter seemingly strive to dominate and control this ‘territory’ where the ‘so-called free market’ exists.
Last year, the 2014 NBA All Star Weekend brought more than $106 million to the business owners. Additionally, the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) officials reported that WrestleMania produced $142.2 million in revenue for the city’s business community. In 2012, the French Quarter Festival generated more than $259.5 million dollars.
New Orleans’ 300th Birthday in 2018
Today, New Orleans is 297 years old. Despite what the media or independent journalists will say, Black people are still oppressed. Black people suffer a double burden of oppression. The majority of Black people suffer from class exploitation; they are paid poverty wages. And, the majority of Black people suffer from a system of discrimination or national oppression commonly called racism, which is not shared by their white counterparts. Many of the French Quarter millionaires trace their origin to the colonial slave period of Louisiana territory when Louisiana was founded by its first slave owner Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, who is credited as the founder of New Orleans. Many other promising millionaires who would come from France, Spain, Europe and later the east coast of the United States would intensify the oppression of the enslaved and make New Orleans one of the largest slave trading centers in the United States. With the spirit of thievery along with the foul odor of white supremacy ideology, many of today’s French quarter merchants appear to hate Black people as well as Black women.
Organizations like the French Quarter Business Association seemingly desire to maximize their greed for profits ‘for themselves, of themselves and by themselves’ and appear to restrict Black citizens from owning and operating businesses in the French Quarter.
We believe that white chauvinist business establishments that seek to deny Black people the equal right to pursue economic opportunities should be boycotted. We believe that the hate crimes by Watters, the Bienville House Hotel, and the FQBA should be denounced. We advise the public and all democratic minded people to stay away from the Bienville House Hotel and other businesses associated with the French Quarter Business Association.
Self-Determination for the African American Nation!
Distributed by: The Rouge House Committee for Justice – Contact:
Public Notice#1, Kindly Pass Along