French Quarter bar owners frustrated with the slow pace of recovery in New Orleans threatened to defy the city’s midnight curfew and stay open into the wee hours Saturday.
“Let’s get our senses back,” said Jim Monaghan, owner of Molly’s at the Market.
Police spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo warned that the midnight-to-6 a.m. curfew would be enforced and anyone on the streets would be subject to arrest or a summons.
Under normal circumstances, Bourbon Street and the French Quarter neighborhood that surrounds it pulse with raucous partying into the early morning. Business owners are eager to let the good times roll again.
The neighborhood was largely spared by Hurricane Katrina, and many out-of-town disaster-relief crews — along with law officers, soldiers, reporters and even tourists — have been crowding French Quarter bars and restaurants, despite a midnight curfew decreed by the mayor.
The curfew was largely ignored and infrequently enforced until this week. Many bar owners attribute the sudden enforcement to the furor that followed the videotaped beating of a 64-year-old man by police officers last Saturday night.
Defillo denied any connection. He said the curfew was imposed because police and other departments are not yet ready to resume full, round-the-clock operations.
Bar owners argued that the French Quarter is one section of the city where the curfew could be waived or at least pushed back, noting that the neighborhood in an important part of the city’s tourist-dependent economy.
“I feel like what’s happening is we’re talking out of both sides of the mouth,” Monaghan said. “They want us to rebuild the city but do it their way.”