Drag racing is already banned in New Orleans. Now, burning rubber and making cakes on the city streets will also be prohibited.
Amid renewed concerns about stunt driving, an ordinance making it a municipal offense for drivers to perform the stunts that drew crowds recently sailed to several city intersections through New Orleans City Hall on Thursday.
District D Council member Eugene Green sponsored the ordinance, which expands based on a provision in local law that prohibits drag racing on public roads. The new legislation also criminalizes organizing events on social media or blocking roads for exciting game shows.
Mayor Latoya Cantrell’s office said she plans to sign the decree, which has unanimous support from the council and there has been no public comment.
“We are working to make sure our citizens are safe, even the perpetrators,” Green said. “We hope there will be no perpetrators after today.”
Exciting offers spread
While the ordinance has been in the works for weeks, it drew attention after a highly publicized June 5 “takeover” event in which drivers closed intersections across the city due to strange car behaviors.
A video clip from a sideshow, at the intersection of Sainte-Claude and Saint-Roch avenues, showed someone gleefully stomping on the hood of a police cruiser trying to break up the rally.
Another video recently showed the body of a spectator flying through the air after being hit by a spinning car.
Violations of the law result in a possible fine of $500 or a 30-day prison sentence. As Green himself notes, it covers areas similar to existing laws, some of which carry stricter provisions.
For example, the New Orleans Police Department has obtained arrest warrants for several alleged participants in the June 5 event on state criminal charges related to aggravated obstruction of a commerce highway, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
Officials must attend
Greene’s decree was one of two criminal justice measures passed Thursday. The council also approved an order by council president Helena Moreno requiring the director of police, the attorney general, the mayor, criminal and juvenile court judges, the independent police observer and the director of the juvenile prison, to appear before the council every three months.
Moreno said the law is necessary because different leaders sometimes cite scheduling conflicts when asked to attend.
Criminal Justice Committee Chairman and District E Councilman Oliver Thomas expresses support for the measure, and for its possible expansion.
“Maybe we’ll take a look at some of the other agencies we’re pulling in here – oops, nothing – asking to come in here, and come before us,” Thomas said.