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New Orleans to Repeal Container Law

July 10, 2001

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The Big Easy is on the verge of tossing out a 29-year ban on public drinking from bottles and cans.

The City Council last week voted to suspend the law. The repeal will take effect once it is signed by Mayor Marc Morial, who said he supports the change.

Critics of the open container law have long said that police enforce it mainly as an excuse to stop and search blacks. Nearly 80 percent of those charged with violating the ordinance are black, according to a study released last month by Morial’s office.

A push to change the law began in earnest in November after a black man stopped for carrying an open can of beer was fatally shot by four police officers. Police said the man had a gun, but family members said he was unarmed.

Many bartenders said they will ignore the repeal and continue giving plastic ``go cups″ to patrons who want to go outside with a drink. Keith Cloyd, owner of Ol’Toones Saloon in the French Quarter, said the cups reduce the amount of broken glass on streets and sidewalks.

``Everybody who leaves here with a drink leaves with a plastic cup,″ Cloyd said. ``It just looks better and it’s safer for the people in the street. Especially late at night, when people have had a little too much and they’re walking around the streets barefoot.″

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