New Orleans City Council Protects Essence Fest With ‘Clean Zone’ Ordinance

Thanks to another “clean zone” ordinance by the New Orleans City Council, this year’s Essence Festival should be safe from unauthorized events.

To control the massive foot traffic brought on by non-permitted vendors and illicit events, the New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance on Thursday, June 6, to designate public property within the boundaries of the annual event as a “clean zone,” Fox 8 Live reports. With the clean zone in place, it “temporarily prohibits several permits and the transaction of certain business and/or commercial activity, establishing a special process to approve additional local small business activity within the clean zone as well as fines and penalties for any violations.”

“In creating this Clean Zone, the City hopes to regulate commercial activity, prevent the sale of counterfeit merchandise, assist local small businesses in thriving during the festival, prevent congestion, litter, and traffic obstructions, and ultimately ensure the public health, safety, and welfare of both residents and visitors alike throughout the duration of the event,” the council stated.

While the ordinance allows licensed vendors to sell within the zone during Essence Fest without issue, some residents took issue with the “clean zone” rule and caused a scene at the City Council meeting. Community activist Byron Cole, his wife, Rhadell Cole, and Sean Myles were all arrested after causing a disturbance inside the council chambers.

The New Orleans Police Department reportedly repeatedly asked the trio to stop their outbursts before they were removed and arrested at the scene. This isn’t the first year a “clean zone” ordinance has been put in place to only allow licensed vendors and events during the Essence Festival.

Last year, the “clean zone” rule led to a Black-owned bookstore and coffeeshop being issued a temporary restraining order that shut down the business’s event to promote Black authors during Essence Fest. Baldwin & Co. received a cease-and-desist from Essence Fest lawyers accusing the bookstore of using its trademark to mislead customers.

“Such actions are not only unjust but also tarnish the reputation of Essence and raise questions about its commitment to supporting the Black community as a whole,” store owner Dernell “DJ” Johnson said.

This year’s Essence Festival of Culture celebrates the festival’s 30th anniversary from July 4-7th in the vibrant heart of New Orleans. Headlining acts include Usher and Janet Jackson, as well as performances from Victoria Monét, Birdman & Friends Presents 30 Years of Cash Money Millionaires, Charlie Wilson, and a special tribute to Frankie Beverly & Maze.

Tickets for Essence Festival 2024 can be purchased HERE.

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