The Shreveport City Council votes down an expansion of the open container law

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – As the city of Shreveport prepares for the biggest party in town, downtown drinking laws go before the City Council on Tuesday.

A resolution went to the council that would expand the area where open containers are allowed in preparation for 50 Cent’s upcoming Humor and Harmony festival in August. However, it did not pass.

The City Council passed an open container ordinance for the Red River District earlier this year. Councilwoman Tabatha Taylor sought to expand the area to cover the Humor and Harmony festival along with Stageworks. She said she spoke with Police Chief Wayne, City Attorney Marcus Edwards and SPAR beforehand.

Concerns from fellow councilors about security, lack of priority and advance information ahead of today’s meeting, however, led to it being voted down in a five to two decision.

“I have a problem with who will serve these drinks, how old will these people be? Do we encourage them to be out drinking? Who will clean up all the trash the next day? I don’t see this as a good idea at all. As the representative for District B, I will ask the council to vote no on this and possibly come back to this in two weeks with a possible different resolution,” said City Councilman Gary Brooks, District B.

“This whole piece of legislation has been debated in its entirety, because if it hadn’t been debated in its entirety, I never would have put it on the agenda. It was searched. I spoke to Chief Wayne in reference to that and asked if there were any other additional concerns around this,” said Councilwoman Tabatha Taylor, District A.

Questions were asked of Chief Smith about what makes drinking at this event different from others.

“Explain to me how some drinking is different. I don’t understand, but what you talked about yesterday has me confused, because the way I see it, drinking is just drinking,” said Councilman James Green, District F.

“I did not target this incident as opposed to any other incident,” Chief Smith said.

Smith told the council his department will “deal with it no matter what.” He has had ongoing meetings about security preparations for the festival.

“We think in our minds about all the worst-case scenarios and that’s what we plan for,” Smith said.

SPAR Director Shelly Ragle also told the council that G-Unit will pay for police presence and cleanup, and so far 50 Cent has booked 715 hotel rooms, which she said “is quite a lot for the city.”

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