Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Activists rally against Landry and far-right legislation

Jacob L’Hommedieu
Lucas Harrell stands with fellow protestors on the neutral ground outside Washington Square, Oct. 22, 2023. He spoke out on the injustices perpetrated by the far-right along with Quest Riggs, Laura Rodriguez of the Tampa 5, Lou Blumberg of Jewish Voices for Peace New Orleans, and Serena Sojic-Borne for Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Not everyone is happy with the results of Louisiana’s 2023 state elections. Some of the most vocal about their displeasure are members of the Real Name Campaign and Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

The two groups, along with Jewish Voices for Peace New Orleans and Students for Democratic Society, came together to rally in Washington Square on Oct. 22 in order to call attention to and protest against attacks on LGBT+ youth and diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as the racist policies of Republicans like Ron DeSantis and Jeff Landry.

“We can expect repression, we can expect to be villainized, but we’re here to say that none of that scares us,” said Real Name Campaign member Quest Riggs.

However, the low turnout for the state elections seem to have carried over to the rally’s turnout, as only volunteers and organizers were present at the 4:30 p.m. starting time.

“I was worried about turnout beforehand because a lot of people’s energy is focused politically on the situation in Palestine,” Riggs said. “A lot of people, I’m assuming, might have been out of energy.”

Political analysts seem to agree with Riggs sentiment, as they cite voter burnout to national politics along with distrust in those who govern for some of the main reasons why election turnout was so low, according to KTAL News.

Despite the setback, the rally continued by changing locations to the neutral ground on the corner of Elysian Fields Ave. and Dauphine Street. There, they chanted political messages like “Landry says get back, we say fight back” and “When trans kids are under attack, we say stand up fight back” and had representatives from each group make speeches to cars and pedestrians that went by.

Among the speakers were Quest Riggs, Lucas Harrell, Lou Blumberg of JVPNO, Serena Sojic-Borne of FRSO, and Laura Rodriguez, representing both SDS and the Tampa 5. Rodriguez had flown out to New Orleans as a part of the group’s outreach campaign to rally others against DeSantis’ policies, copycat legislation from other Republican politicians, and for the exoneration of her and the four other members of the Tampa 5.

“We know that the anti-diversity bills are being copied in states like Ohio and Kentucky, as well as abortion bills are being copied from the state of Florida,” Rodriguez said. “[DeSantis] is a cornerstone of what can happen when the far-right are in charge of our country.”

During his campaign and even before, Jeff Landry and the Republicans of Louisiana have called for the ban of DEI in colleges, have taken actions against abortion in New Orleans following the dismissal of Roe v. Wade, made statements in support of actions that disproportionately affect the Black community, and have made efforts to obtain the personal data of those seeking gender-affirming care out of state.

Other than access to abortion, none of the other issues seemed to match with Louisianians’ political interests. According to a survey conducted on over 800 voters by WWL-TV, one of the biggest issues to Louisiana voters was increase in crime and violence. This matches with a survey conducted by Louisiana State University, where 19% of respondents said crime was their top concern for the state. In the same survey, 52% of respondents said that abortion should be legal in all cases, according to LSU.

Banking on these concerns, Landry promoted himself as a ‘tough-on-crime’ candidate, who would promote policies that would help to curb rising rates of crime in Louisiana, according to his website. Evidently, these promises were enough to garner Landry 51.6% of the around 36% of registered voters who participated in the state elections.

Groups like the Free Name Campaign, FRSO, JVPNO, and SDS now look to the future with concern for what is to come. But they also look to promote their cause and encourage others to fight with them.

“I just hope that, as the consequences of [the] election play out, and as we see more attacks on reproductive rights, on funding for schools and universities, and for the rights of LGBT people, that [people] plug into the movements for justice, plug into the movements to defend those rights, and engage however [they] can,” Riggs said. “Next time there’s a governor’s election, you can be a part of the solution.”

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About the Contributor
Jacob L’Hommedieu
Jacob L’Hommedieu, Worldview Editor
Jacob L'Hommedieu is the Worldview Editor of The Maroon. He is a Senior Political Science Major with a Minor in Social Media Communications. Other than writing, he enjoys spending time with his friends and relaxing on the front porch with a cool glass of water.

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