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Mayor calls curfew a backdoor political deal
BATON ROUGE - The mayor started a very public feud with the sheriff in a live TV interview Tuesday night over a curfew set for Tuesday night.
The curfew is from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday. The sheriff announced the curfew in a news conference with state officials earlier Tuesday after ten people were arrested the night before for looting in East Baton Rouge.
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said he was able to call for the curfew after the governor made an executive order, giving him clearance to make such a decision.
The sheriff said he asked the governor to give him the authority after indecision by EBR Mayor-President Kip Holden.
Hours after the curfew was announced, Holden blasted the sheriff. Holden said the sheriff used a dirty, backdoor political deal with the governor to take control.
"I'm the mayor of Baton Rouge, President of the parish," the mayor exclaimed in a live phone conversation with WBRZ anchors Sylvia Weatherspoon and Michael Shingleton during live, extended coverage of the aftermath of wide-spread flooding in the city.
"We are all for people abiding by the law," Holden said, but questioned how the curfew was going to be enforced.
Holden said business owners called him to complain about the curfew, concerned employees would not be able to get to work or would negatively impact business income Tuesday evening. Earlier, though, Gautreaux said he set the curfew after first talking to businesses.
Holden said he received complaints from many restaurants and bars. Gautreaux said residents were concerned about the safety of their property and asked him why a curfew was not enacted earlier.
"As sheriff, I fully recognize the mayor-president has the authority to call a curfew," the sheriff said. He added, "I have never questioned that authority. However, in my conversations... he has not been willing to [set a curfew]."
"I questioned his decision," the sheriff said.
The sheriff said looters targeted businesses and homes overnight Monday.
When questioned about the looting on TV, Holden said the problems were in key areas and brushed them off as minor. The sheriff said deputies found four people breaking into a business.
Holden said the curfew as not thought out, was "petty politics" and was an argument over political muscle he was not interested in getting involved in. Holden discussed his frustrations with the curfew in a seven-minute interview.
Holden promised, though, no matter what, safety is everyone's top priority.
"They are going to be safe. We all are going to take care of them."
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