NEW ORLEANS, La. - Chances are you've seen so called "travelers" setting up on certain neutral grounds in New Orleans and police appear to be receiving more complaints about them. People are worried about panhandling, fighting and the dogs that travel with them, which prompted an operation with law enforcement.
Things got interesting on the neutral ground near Esplanade and Decatur Monday, after a group of "travelers" found themselves in handcuffs. Fellow traveler, 'Chaos,' expressed his frustrations with WWL's Paul Murphy as it was happening.
"If I were here five minutes earlier that would be me getting arrested too," he said.
An email by NOPD stated the coordinated operation came after a number of complaints came from residents, businesses and visitors in the area. Ten arrests and four summons have been made so far, and three dogs are now at the SPCA. Those who work and live in the area say "travelers" have always been part of New Orleans. However, in the past month, more have made the city home.
"I would say the group in town this year seem to be a little more aggressive," said Tierney Monaghan with Molly's at the Market. "As far as the panhandling, yelling, and screaming at people. Dogs also haven't been under control so I think it's much more of a public safety issue."
FMIA President, Allen Johnson, agrees. However, he says there's another concern.
"The drugs have really gotten bad I think," he said. "I think the heroin epidemic is hitting them bad down here. We're seeing drug sales in this neighborhood too."
As police continue their operation, residents say there's no reason "travelers" can't be here, they just need to have respect for people and the area.
"I want us to peacefully co-exist," said Monaghan. "Your lifestyle choices don't necessarily have to be my lifestyle choices, but when they hinge upon my lifestyle choices that's where we start to have a problem."
Some of the charges police say the "travelers" were booked with include obstruction of a public passage and obstruction of a public right of way. It's possible more arrests could be made.
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