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Journal of Public Management & Social Policy

Abstract

New Orleans politicians, with the aid of the federal government, used the destruction and displacement caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to implement policies that discouraged low-income and working class black residents from returning to New Orleans. Impacted communities felt the need to revitalize street parades (second-line parades), a traditional communal neighborhood activity, as an instrument of political protest. In response the City used minor municipal ordinances to more vigorously regulate these parades, doubling the fees imposed for street parades and effectively shutting them down. The City’s response raised important constitutional questions about government suppression of speech and freedom of association. This article is an examination of how the racially biased use of city permitting structures impacted working-class blacks in New Orleans post-Katrina. It is a cautionary tale about how cities can enforce social control by manipulating tiny details in municipal laws. It is a lesson for other diverse communities about what can happen to minority subcultures in the wake of recovery efforts after a natural disaster.

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