NEW ORLEANS -- On most days, you can find Veedra Tyson in the kitchen of Ulloa Street Playhouse cooking up something deep fried.
“We have games to play for the kids to play, we have pool tables, we have great food” Tyson said.
But lately she says she’s found herself defending her business more than cooking for it.
“The neighborhood itself is like all the neighborhoods in New Orleans, everything is happening," Tyson explained. "It’s all around us, we can’t run from it, we just praying not to run into it.”
In the last few months, the 3700 block of Ulloa street has seen an increase in violent crime, but it’s the Playhouse, she says, that seems to be getting the blame.
“Everything that happens on Ulloa street, Ulloa street playhouse is the reason why it’s happening. That is not true," Tyson said. "We have nothing to do with nothing that’s going on."
Some of that attention is coming from Roux Merlot and the groups he belongs to such as the Greater Mid-City Business Association and the Mid-City Tulane Banks Neighborhood Association.
“I see conflict with them running their business and getting customers to their business because of this environment we live in right now” Merlot said.
Merlot said “an environment of violence, and drug sales, and prostitution that’s still lingering around, but like I said its nothing new it’s been happening for decades.”
When asked if neighborhood groups were tying those acts directly to the businesses on the street, Merlot answered “I don’t want to go there with that.”
But Merlot explained that they’ve been working with the NOPD first district logging every call to police and arrest made in the area in an attempt to take legal action against the business.
Tyson says they’ve been unfairly attached to the things happening in the neighborhood
“They’ll say everybody running from the playhouse, no, if something is going on I got a 4-month-old baby in here, that damn door is getting locked. I don’t care who’s in here or who’s out there it’s getting locked” Tyson said.
The management at the playhouse tell me that they will be present at the next neighborhood association meeting. Now, the Mid-city Tulane Banks Neighborhood Association says its waiting for a response from the NOPD First District on what their next step will be.