Businesses worry about Bourbon St. violence

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wwltv.com

Posted on November 26, 2012 at 7:16 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 26 at 7:21 PM

Katie Moore / Eyewitness News
Email: kmoore@wwltv.com | Twitter: @katiecmoore

NEW ORLEANS - Police Chief Ronal Serpas praised his officers and thanked other departments for their help after a big game, and a big holiday weekend.

They made more arrests this weekend than in the past six years. That part of the story has some business owners concerned.

Police said they made more arrests this Bayou Classic weekend but they say overall violence was down. It's a fact that surprises some business owners in the upper part of Bourbon Street.

A brawl in a Bourbon Street club spilled into the street at 4:30 Saturday morning. It left four men wanted for beating the victim unconscious and robbing him. It was all caught on surveillance video.

“This weekend was crazy,” said Nyesha Barnes, a souvenir shop employee in the 200 block of Bourbon St.

She said the big crowds made it difficult to move around and difficult to do business.

“People had different intentions. Some people came out here to have fun. Some people came out here to retaliate on people. It wasn't a good crowd at all,” Barnes said.

“When you have an event where there's tens of thousands of people who come into a very small space, like the French Quarter, or very small spaces like a bar room, these things happen. People get into fights and they don’t think about what they're doing,” said NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

New Orleans Police said they made more arrests this year in the Eighth District than in the past six Bayou Classic weekends, 99 in all. Nine of those arrests were for guns.

“The number of crimes where people were involved, persons crimes, is down about half over last year,” Serpas said.

Some of the business owners on the upper part of Bourbon Street said they fear the incidents are becoming more violent and some say it's now affecting their bottom line.

“That evening, we had to shut our store down three times,” Weber said.

Her employees said in the 500 block of Bourbon it sounded like a number of gunshots went off just after 2 a.m. Weber said people rushed into the store to take cover.

“They pretty much ransacked the store and some opportunistic people took that situation and started stealing some things as well,” she said.

Police said it was actually someone shooting off fireworks, and that the perpetrators ran from the scene before police got there.

So, whether it's perception or reality, business owners here say it's a problem, especially with so many more events scheduled, including the Superbowl in February.

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