A viral video showing the arrest of a brass band musician in New Orleans has a community outraged at the business owner who allegedly called the cops on the trumpet player.
On July 8, Eugene Grant was arrested on charges of obstructing the public right-of-way and resisting arrest.
Witnesses who saw the arrest say New Orleans police officers were unnecessarily rough when detaining the 27-year-old, who has developmental delays and is on the autism spectrum, reported the New Orleans Advocate.
On Monday night around 9:30 p.m., Grant was playing trumpet with a brass band on Frenchmen Street when police received a report of a disturbance from the bookstore owner. When officers arrived, they asked the band to move from the street to the sidewalk, NOPD spokesman Andy Cunningham told the Advocate.
“At that time, a member of the band, later identified as Eugene Grant, struck one of the officers in the chest with his instrument, damaging the officer’s body-worn camera,” Cunningham said.
In a video from the arrest, people on the streets can be seen accusing the owner of Frenchmen Art & Books of disrespecting the music culture found on New Orleans’ Frenchmen Street.
“Eugene was just a musician from New Orleans, doing what New Orleans musicians do. They play on the street, on Frenchmen Street. That’s a part of that neighborhood,” attorney Cherrell Simms Taplin, who represented Grant in court Tuesday morning, told the Advocate.
Although prosecutors agreed to drop the charges, people in the neighborhood and on social media believe the incident highlights a greater issue with the erasure of Black culture and police brutality.
Anthony Brooks, Grant’s friend and bandmate in the Slow Rollas Brass Band, said street brass bands are part of New Orleans’ musically rich urban culture.
“We’re not committing any crime. We’re not robbing, killing, stealing, jacking. We’re just playing music,” Brooks told the Advocate.
Although Brooks was not present on Monday, he said he was horrified when he heard about the arrest.
“They put hands on him,” said Brooks. “He was handled roughly.”
In the video posted to Facebook, Grant is being held to the ground by an NOPD officer as a crowd forms around him and the bookstore. Less than 24-hours later, the bookstore’s Yelp rating was tanked by people criticizing the owner.
“Who opens a bookstore on a street famous for being the epicenter of music in New Orleans? Then calls the cops on the brass bands that have been playing there for YEARS,” Yelp user Ole O. wrote.
Grant’s mother, Betty, said the musician is doing OK now and was back on Bourbon Street playing music Tuesday afternoon.
(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)