Feb 062013
 

A vacant lot on the corner of Amelia and Baronne where neighbors say unruly teenagers congregate during Mardi Gras parades. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A two-block stretch of Amelia Street that neighbors say has become an out-of-control gathering place for unruly teenagers during Mardi Gras will receive increased attention this week from both police and city officials who promise to end the problem.

The problem is different from the typical Carnival-time revelry that lines the Uptown route, neighbors and officials say. Instead, a vacant lot at the corner of Baronne Street — memorable to passers-by for a lone set of stone stairs in the center of it — has become a gathering point for teens, and they form a dense throng for two blocks between there and the parade on St. Charles Avenue.

“Walking to my apartment during a parade is nearly as difficult as navigating Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, as walking often slows to a stand-still by the mass of people,” wrote one resident in an email to Uptown Messenger, whose name is being withheld. “What makes it worse is the fact thy many of these people are experiencing alcohol for the first time, leading to many circumstances where teens are passed out on the sidewalks.”

Their “alcohol-fueled bravado,” he wrote, leads to fights, vandalism and the use of the street as a bathroom. He and his fiancee had considered buying the lot to build or move a home onto, he says, but they are now considering moving off the street instead.

The problem seems to be getting progressively worse each year, as the block becomes a more popular hangout, said Angela, another resident of the street who asked that her full name not be used to prevent retaliation. Last year, they set off fireworks in the street that set fire to a car and scooter parked nearby, she said.

“I think the vast majority of their behavior is underage drinking combined with group mentality,” Angela said. “If we ask them to refrain from doing any of this behavior, you automatically become a target. It becomes almost a joke for a group of them to threaten and ridicule you.”

Lt. Frank Young of the NOPD Sixth District said he was dispatched to the street toward the end of the last Saturday night parades of the first parading weekend, and observed the dense crowd of young teens for himself. Their behavior was more restrained in the presence of police, he said, but the mass of people was unusual compared to the rest of the route.

“It was at least one block deep,” Young said. “It was definitely more than the usual six-person-deep parade spectators. Something about this block is attracting them, and I could see if I lived there it being a pain.”

Young said he and the other Sixth District officers helped the crowd disperse that night, and this week, he will be assigning his officers who work the perimeter of the route (not St. Charles Avenue itself) to Amelia Street, perhaps with the assistance of an officer on horseback. Further, Young said, he plans to involve state alcohol agents, because underage drinking does seem to be a particular part of the problem.

LaToya Cantrell

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell said she, too, is aware of the problem.

“When residents have tried to address it themselves, they get met with vulgarity,” Cantrell said. “People are afraid and intimidated. From what I understand, this has been an ongoing problem for years.”

She said she has spoken to the Sixth District about the issue as well, to try to make sure the problem is solved in the short term for the remainder of this Carnival season. Moving forward, her office has begun researching the ownership of the lot — it is registered to a St. Daniel Spiritual Temple — but the contact information on record with the city is unclear, she said.

Once her office establishes who is actually responsible for the property, they will work toward a solution there, perhaps a fence to keep people out, or something more permanent. Cantrell said she questions whether the current use of the property “aligns with a church’s values.”

“We’re trying to push this parcel back into commerce,” Cantrell said. “No one should have to live like that.”

News that their cry of relief is being heard was welcomed by the Amelia Street residents on Wednesday morning. Angela said that a resolution will be beneficial to everyone — including the teens.

“Not only are we concerned about our own safety, but these kids are drinking to the point that they’re unresponsive,” Angela said. “That’s clearly a problem.”

The issue, Cantrell said, is not limited to Amelia Street. On Tuesday afternoon, her office sent a letter to NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas asking for more enforcement in general of the city’s parade ordinances, particularly with regard to the placement of ladders. She also suggested that the city needs a stronger law against loitering.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.flood.129 Mike Flood

    Police might even catch 3 rapist there.

  • CFC

    There is also a vacant field at Baronne/Foucher (one block from Amelia) and there were people shooting up during the parades at that location last year! Will the NOPD be patrolling that field too?

  • http://atwelfthmeow.com/ Matt Wolfe

    As the resident quoted in this story – I just really want to drive home the point that this isn’t just a matter of some teenagers hanging out near the house. The car and scooter fire from last year were a sign of what they’re doing on this street.

    During the first parading weekend of 2013, a teen tried to force their way into my home in an attempt to beat me and my fiancee up – I physically prevented them from entering my front door with 911 on the phone. When police arrived, the offending teen had vanished, but the crowd still remained (90 minutes after the parade had passed) – yet the officers drove away.

    I just want the violence and actual crimes to stop. This is supposed to be a fun event and this has caused fear for my personal safety and the safety of my home.

    • Guest

      Wow. The “offending teen” is lucky that you were relatively tame in your response. I’m sure many other homeowners in the area wouldn’t have been so accommodating. A drunk/belligerent male attempting to force his way into a home to cause physical harm to the residents therein (including a female, apparently? Stay classy, “bro”)…. That’s a good way to end up with a hole in the chest.

  • Uptwnr

    Finally, these drunk teens have been terrorizing this section of Amelia for years.

  • SafetyDance

    those no good teens!

    • steve

      yeah…teens…were the problem?…911-no good arabs……gun outlaws-no good democrats…way to be prejudice your a pro

    • steve

      im going to live on Amelia st and not expect to have a crowd or be heavily populated with teenagers during mardi gras (a huge ass party in new Orleans).

      • ShutUp

        yeah, seriously!

  • The Don

    This is bull because it’s not all teens it’s a select few that decide to do dumb things like set the scooter on fire so why are you residents trying to ruin the fun for us? Oh yea I live uptown on Peniston y’all should also complain about the college students that party there. I’m pretty sure they are also under the age of 21 just like us teens.

    • http://atwelfthmeow.com/ Matt Wolfe

      As long as you’re not breaking the law, do what you want – the people we’re referring to tried to get into my home, set fires, urinated on cars, shot fireworks at handicapped parade goers and broke bottles on homes. If that’s the fun you’re after, then yes – I’m trying to ruin it. Otherwise, enjoy Carnival season.

    • Tebbe

      You’ll have to deploy the national guard if you really want to resolve this “issue.” These aren’t any normal teenagers… These are young New Orleanians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/T.s.Tcoldcup Landon White

    lololololololololololololololololololololololololololol

    • Zimpelton

      Ah, such inspired and melodious juvenilia. With wisdom, too, may you all be so effusive.

  • http://atwelfthmeow.com/ Matt Wolfe

    6:50pm and the vacant lot already has a crowd…

    • Guest

      Oh no. The world is ending!

  • UnrulyTeen

    These adults acting like they weren’t partying and drinking when they were in high school. Hypocrites. It’s mardi gras, if you can’t take a crowd on your street then you probably shouldn’t live a block away from St. Charles. And good joke about the kids “experiencing alcohol for the first time.” I got a good laugh about that one.

  • Jack

    Post a few cops and your problem goes away. This is a simple issue not worth a news article.

  • USA

    I thought this was ‘Merica!? You damn commies are taken away my freedoms!

  • http://twitter.com/JordanSt_7 jordan st. etienne

    Is this a joke? Did your thought process even consider Mardi Gras before even moving there? Stuck Up??? Call the cops on something more important than peeing on the streets….. you live in New Orleans bruh. This is nothing but complaining. if you dont like the uptown route live on Esplanade or something… or Kenner at that. Although if who ever took this serious gave me a pretty good laugh.. see yall tomorrow. 2.7.13

    • lollol@yahoo.com

      No, “Bruh”, its not a joke. Have you thought about why they live there? Maybe for the view? closer to job? or maybe they moved there long before this was a problem. Crimes are worse now compare to 10+years ago. Mardi Gras is about having a good time with families and friends but now, its all about getting drunk in puplic by teens who can’t control themselfs. Have you read the news lately? More and more 15 year old kids are commiting adults crimes now compare to before Hurricane Katrina. Maybe these home owners never thought it would come to 15 year old kids shooting, killing, robbing and rapeing people infront of their own HOME. Think and try to put yourself in these home owners shoes before you say anything “bruh”.

      • UnrulyTeen

        Themselves* and raping* Don’t make fun of someone’s grammar or the way they speak if you sound unbelievably uneducated yourself, thank you. And you are a huge pussy.

  • Teen Punk

    I agree that the crimes that were committed last year were wrong, but I partly blame the city for it. Sure, Amelia street, which if they haven’t realized is in front of Superior hence why teens go there, is crowded sometimes, but when the city packed Bacchus and Endymion on the same night last year, they should have know what was to come. I was there last year and it was absolutely crazy. Fights broke out, I saw kids new to the Superior scene passed out, and I saw a moped catch fire. These people need to realize that those kids who set the moped on fire were not the group of regular kids who come to Amelia every Mardi Gras. I saw a kid get punched in the face because he was different from the Lakeview kids who were confronting him. I can guarantee a Mardi Gras like atmosphere this year in that same area, but I very highly doubt that a Bacchus and Endymion like night won’t happen this year. I firmly believe it was a one time thing, and if your one of those people who complain about public urination, please leave, cause you’ve probably done it too.

  • http://twitter.com/Pastor_Piff Stay Positive

    The fact that these same rebellious teens are probably reading this article just shows how oblivious these “responsible adults” truly are. If only they understood the power of social media… Planting ATC officers will do nothing but enrage the kids. I personally believe that the select few incidents that have sparked this controversy were handled inappropriately by the adults. The proper way to address a belligerently drunk teenager is to ask them nicely to “Chill the f*ck out, please.” The solution to this “problem,” in the long run, will only create more problems. What would happen if these teens were spread throughout the parade route?

  • http://twitter.com/Pastor_Piff Stay Positive

    This article means war but Stay Positive.

  • chris

    Back when I was a teen, I would have been there partying and causing a ruckus. It’s just going to happen, here or someplace else.

    This street has been known to cops and parents for years as the teen hangout spot of choice. My buddy lived along this stretch and the kids would sneak down his ally to pee and make-out. We would hide in the shadows with a hose and flashlights, wait for them to drop their pants, then click on the lights and soak them with the hose.

    The cops will do nothing, the parents are too busy partying to care, teens only push back when told no so you have to get creative, use your wits, and have fun with it.

  • bossy

    Bunch of loser teens. Have to hang out in large groups in order to feel they exist. The cool teens don’t hang out on St Charles parade route.

    • Guest

      you really are stupid…

  • Waka Waka

    the neighbors should get together and blast really loud classical or opera music. That might move the miscreants along.

    • ShutUp

      It is mardi gras, get over it.

  • ShutUp

    I do not understand why someone who has such a big issue with people drinking and loitering at parades would live on a parade route. It is their own fault.

  • Jay

    I think a lot of people are taking this article the wrong way. I read it. It’s not saying all teens. But yes I agree that this article is about “Black” teens. The resident has a point. It’s good to have fun and all. I’m a 22 year old black female college student. I drink. I have a damn good time, but there is a limit. They are in front this lady’s house with all that foolishness to the point that there is vandalism and robbery…that is a problem! And I’m just going to tell the truth, the only reason that it is such a big group of teenagers is because they do want to feel like they’re “IN”. They want to feel included. They’re “cliqued” up because they think that the shit is cool. My sister is 17 and I hear stories about stuff like this everyday. When I was 17 it was the same thing. Besides, where are their parents?? The parents need to be checked too, to be honest. There’s a difference between having fun and acting a fool. HUGE difference. So I do think the resident is right. They get crazy, but look who we’re talking about here. We’re talking about Black New Orleans teenagers. As much as I hate to say it, it’s pretty obvious. And if it were me, I’d be quick to call the police on white teens, black teens, spanish teens, any teen or college student of any creed or race. I don’t discriminate.

    • http://twitter.com/SurahSoWhat Surah

      I live on Amelia and the majority of the teenagers that were causing the problems were rich white kids. Not that it makes a difference. Thankful for the NOPD’s presence during last night’s parades.

    • http://www.facebook.com/catherine.castine Cathy Castine

      Thanks Jay for being honest. I’m also glad you noted that you are a black college student. As far as Mr Keith see things, there is no such thing as a black college student. Glad you are having fun and respecting your self and others. That is what life should be about. It does not matter if you are , black, white are any other race, It also does not matter if you are gay or straight in my book. It always about the way you respect your self and others.

  • http://www.facebook.com/catherine.castine Cathy Castine

    There you go again keith. Your statement make it seems like no black teenage go to college. There are a lot of Black kids that do not hang around and drink . As long as people think like you do black teens will always be look upon as trash.
    If you hate it so much in New Orleans please leave and stop putting black people down.