NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she "flipped the bird" during the Tucks parade in response to a float rider who did the same to her.
Cantrell addressed the situation formally for the first time since the incident on the final big weekend of Carnival.
Cantrell was caught on camera enjoying the parade and apparently shouting out "I love you" before making the gesture that was originally characterized by a city spokesman as being in "jest" and "all in good fun."
"I was flipped the bird... and, um... I just had to go ahead and do a little bird flip and say 'I love you.'"
“It was a shot, in my opinion, not at me directly, but at the city of New Orleans and I’m the mayor of the city… to be so disrespectful to the city that has worked so hard to get the privilege of having Mardi Gras, that’s what that was all about. Hopefully that will never happen again."
Cantrell's gesture was caught on video and widely distributed on social media. There is no telling if it affected the recall petition signature drive but it happened with just days to go before the deadline to collect signatures.
Cantrell also addressed the recall effort during Wednesday's press briefing, calling it "disenfranchisement."
"Really it's no longer about recalling me," she said. "It’s evident this recall is not just about me. It’s about disenfranchisement of, particularly black voters in this community."
Even though inactive voters can still vote in elections, Cantrell and others opposing the recall effort have painted the negotiations with Republican Sec. of State Kyle Ardoin's Office as an effort to disenfranchise voters.
WWL-TV Political Analyst Clancy DuBos emphasized that "This is not a purge, this is simply moving them from the active list to the inactive list. All of them can vote. Whether you're active or inactive, you can still vote."
Cantrell has been under a lot of scrutiny and controversy in her second term as mayor. Recently an organization seeking to recall her from the position says it is nearing the required signature goal it needs to force a vote on her future.
Several of the 2023 season's parade krewes have taken a satirical or directly critical view of the mayor's recent controversies, including her first-class travel, use of a city-owned apartment, problems with streets and the dwindling police force.