NEW ORLEANS — French Quarter bar owners plan to challenge the city’s midnight-to-6 a.m. curfew the only way New Orleans knows how: with a party.
Jim Monaghan said his Molly’s at the Market bar will return Friday to its normal hours of 10 a.m. to 6 a.m. regardless of a curfew police have enforced more aggressively over the past week or so.
His goal, he said, is to demonstrate that New Orleans is on the mend and it’s open for business.
“We’ll all go to jail. It’s an act of civil disobedience,” Monaghan said.
He’s helping lead a campaign among businesses in the heart of the tourist district, which depends heavily on revelers partying into the wee hours, to defy the curfew.
Sweeping Bourbon Street and other French Quarter thoroughfares of pedestrians and shuttering bars at midnight sends the wrong signal, business owners say. Several people have been arrested for violating the curfew.
“It’s a slap in the face,” said Madeline Schwartz, manager of several Bourbon Street clubs and bars. “We’re trying to come back, but this is going to devastate us.”
Police spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said Thursday that the curfew “will be enforced,” with violators subject to an arrest or summons.
The curfew had been more of a suggestion and was not strongly enforced until recently.
Many bar owners blame the change on the widely publicized police beating of a 64-year-old man on Saturday night. The confrontation was captured on videotape.
Defillo denied the incident had anything to do with stepped-up enforcement. He said the curfew was imposed by the mayor because police and other departments are not yet ready to resume full, round-the-clock operations.
While many patrons say they’re ready for the New Orleans nightlife to get back into full swing, they also say they understand the restriction.
“It’s more of a safety issue, and I think that’s fine,” said Mimi Peake, a native of New Orleans who now lives in Kenner.
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