New Orleans Congress of Day Laborers and Allies at the City Council Meeting

Yep, it’s still cold, but I remembered my ear warmer thing-y as I headed out for a day of errand-running and meetings. I locked up my bicycle outside City Hall for the 3pm meeting that promised a vote on an ordinance to limit the size of Orleans Parish Prison. Right now New Orleans incarcerates more people than anywhere else in the state of Louisiana. Louisiana incarcerates more people than any other state in the US. And the United States incarcerates more people than anywhere else in the entire world. In other words, there are more people under the control of the carceral state here in New Orleans than anywhere else in the world. Now, this doesn’t mean there’s less crime here than anywhere else–on the contrary New Orleans is known as an incredibly violent city. The thing is, prisons don’t actually make us safer, and our reliance on them keeps us from figuring out strategies to get the safety we really need. Today’s meeting was absolutely packed, including a bunch of folks from the New Orleans Congress of Day Laborers who had just finished a 24 hour vigil at Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office in protest of his policy to hold people indefinitely in OPP for ICE based on nothing but mere suspicion of being here without documentation. In my neck of the woods, we call that racial profiling. The fight against mass incarceration demands broad-based coalition work, because we are all affected negatively by it. I snapped these photos of some members of the Congress of Day Laborers as they held up signs calling for a 1438-bed cap for the new jail as the Council voted 7-0 in favor of the ordinance. That’s a huge victory for the many groups who have been working for years and years to challenge and change the criminal (in)justice system. So much still to do, so much still to do.

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