The message was clear on Saturday: The people of New Orleans want their trash picked up, and they will walk through rain and lightning to get their message across.
A satire-based costume parade that hosted via Facebook marched from Elysian Fields to City Hall on Saturday to protest the city’s unsuccessful efforts to clear trash since Hurricane Ida. Twenty days after the Category Four storm hit the city, some residents still haven’t picked up their trash, and the contents of their refrigerators for a week or more without electricity have left the city smelling pungent.
“Only New Orleans can turn trash into a parade and a political statement. And that’s why we love this city,” said Karen G. Palmer, city council member, who attended the protest once ‘she reached the town hall. “We can laugh at our problems, which I think is good, but understand that it is a huge problem.”
At a council meeting on Friday, Palmer called the garbage collection problem a “public health problem.” And while Mayor LaToya Cantrell removed city workers from tasks, such as mowing grass and cleaning up drains, to launch a task force called “Operation Mardi Gras” to collect trash and debris. Bagged in the street, residents always want solutions.
Most of the revelers at the event wore costumes made up of trash bags that they threw together at the last minute and carried protest placards with messages such as “No taxation without sanitation”.
Mid-City resident Nicole Dreger said the solution is to pay more for employees of contract garbage collectors, some of whom went on strike in May 2020 for wages over $ 10.25 and equipment. protection against COVID-19. Today, the city faces a workforce problem and employee retention challenges.
The parade for Dreger was “a way to make sure Mayor Cantrell and city council know we’re fed up, we’re done with our situation and something needs to be done now.”
Noel Anderson, who lives in the Treme, said yesterday that her 70-year-old neighbor took her trash to the Elysian Fields transfer station, which now allows residents to drop off their own trash for free.
“Before that we didn’t have a pickup, and it was very rare before Hurricane Ida, so it was already a huge problem,” Anderson said.
Anderson, who did graphics for Saturday’s event, said she also took part in protests last summer when hoppers went on strike over wages, health benefits and lack of PPE during the coronavirus pandemic.
“But Metro refuses to pay a living wage and Cantrell refuses to hold them accountable, so I’m delighted to see everyone expressing their frustration with the city’s unsanitary and disgusting smell,” he said. she declared. “I am a happy camper.”
When the parade finally reached City Hall, the rain was falling so hard and fast that it prompted the city to allow parking on neutral lots. Many of the event attendees had headed to the French Quarter to look for dry land – but before they did, they left their trash bags outside the front door of City Hall.
“And the anarchists just left, so that means this is drawing to a close,” Council member Palmer said.
City council will meet on Tuesday to monitor improvements to garbage collection and discuss new solutions with city officials.