We are representing Mr. Grant, a disabled musician who was violently arrested on Frenchmen Street last week. Here is his official public statement, which we released today:
STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF EUGENE GRANT
Eugene and his family want to thank all of the friends, family, musicians, and community leaders who have reached out to him to offer their support during this difficult time. They have truly been overwhelmed by the outpouring of your love.
What happened on July 8th to Eugene was unacceptable. Eugene, who is 5’6, developmentally disabled, and autistic was forcefully arrested by NOPD officers for playing music on the most famous music street in New Orleans. Eugene was tackled by the arresting officers, physically harming him and breaking his trumpet. He was then jailed, terrified at what would happen to him, causing extreme emotional distress. All New Orleanians should be concerned about what happened to Eugene.
Ultimately, Eugene wants two things. He wants to be able to play music and he wants to ensure that the police interact with musicians and disabled individuals in a way that is not violent. These wants should be our wants. Eugene wants what has happened to him to start a greater conversation amongst the city, the police, and the community about effective solutions to pervasive problems.
Eugene is a musician. Music is all he knows and all he wants to do. The City of New Orleans is supported culturally, financially, and historically by musicians like Eugene. It is imperative that the City cultivate an environment on Frenchmen Street that allows street musicians like Eugene to flourish. We look forward to working with community leaders, the City Council, the police, and the mayor to discuss changes we can make and policies we can put in place to ensure the success of our musicians.
Secondly, Eugene is severely developmentally disabled and autistic. No matter the circumstance, the police should not respond to someone armed with only a trumpet, with violence and weaponry. We are encouraged that the NOPD will conduct a thorough investigation into Eugene’s arrest and the use of force surrounding it and will be honest and transparent with the results of that investigation with Eugene as well as the public at large. We look forward to positive changes to prevent this use of force in any similar situation against a person with apparent disabilities in the future.
Thank you again for your support, and we hope to see you on Sunday, July 21 at 2 p.m. at Jackson Square for the rally that is being held to support musicians in New Orleans.
*this has been updated to eliminate the reference to the use of a taser by the police. Although the police tasers were unholstered during this arrest, Mr. Grant was not tased.