NEW ORLEANS — Hundreds of people marched to New Orleans City Hall Thursday night to protest Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s plans to move City Hall in to the Municipal Auditorium.
The auditorium is located in Armstrong Park which includes Congo Square. The ground is considered sacred and a gathering space for drummers. They want the auditorium to return to use as an event venue or a cultural landmark. The protesters took aim directly at the Mayor Thursday night.
“Perhaps you’re numb,” exclaimed Davell Crawford. “Perhaps you’re numb to the cultural significance of this land and the space because you are not from here!”
Luther Gray, a drummer in Congo Square said, “To move City Hall to this building is civilization? We rather be wild!”
Many protesters held signs saying the Mayor will lose their vote if she moves her plans forward. Others believe the move would be the death of Treme.
“Whenever there is public investment below Canal Street and on the outskirts of Treme, residents of Treme get displaced, they get removed,” said Councilmember Kristin Palmer.
The protesters eventually marched and second lined to City Hall. They hope being on the Mayor’s doorstep will force her to hear their voices.
“I have yet to ever see this level of unanimous opposition from corner to corner of our city to any proposed development,” said State Representative Royce Duplessis.
On Wednesday, Mayor Cantrell stressed the 38-million dollars in FEMA funding can only be used on the municipal auditorium whether it becomes City Hall or not.
“This is not a takeover,” Cantrell said. “This is breathing life back into a historic building so that the Municipal Auditorium will serve a purpose and a need that the city has currently.”
The city believes the existing City Hall is in poor condition and requires too much money to upkeep. Cantrell is vowing to protect Congo Square.
“I don’t lie to people. I don’t lie to people so the thought of a new City Hall is a priority because we need one. It’s maximizing the opportunity and the money that we have to address challenges that we face,” Cantrell said.
Last week, the city announced the Mayor will host another public forum, but so far, no timetable on when it will happen.