New Orleans Zoo Cancels Pro-Police Event Because It Might Be 'Divisive'

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

If you live in New Orleans and were looking forward to “Blue at the Zoo,” I have bad news.

The Audubon Zoo’s planned event — meant to encourage positive relations between the police department and the citizenry — has been called off.


The six-day promotion was set to grant 20% off zoo and aquarium concessions and gifts for patrons wearing law enforcement’s iconic color.

But Audubon changed its mind due to criticism.

WDSU relayed an official statement explaining the decision while hailing safe spaces.

The (non-profit) New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation and Audubon Nature Institute partnered to host “Blue at the Zoo” in an effort to promote and foster positive interactive experiences with our New Orleans Police Department. Audubon facilities have long been welcoming and safe spaces for the children, families and citizens of our community.

The Institute conveyed it had “heard feedback regarding the event from members of [the] community and from persons outside of [the] community, who feel this event could be unintentionally divisive rather than inclusive.”

“Though that was never the intent,” it said, “Audubon Nature Institute made the decision to cancel the event.”

Where inclusion and social justice are concerned, some online certainly seemed aghast at a perceived pro-cop position:


As shared by, NOPD Chief Shaun Ferguson lamented the move:

“This event…was an excellent opportunity to connect with our community on a personal level.”

Also unimpressed: the Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police.

Via tweet, the union posed, “Do police reformists want total elimination of the police? Complaining about an event that engages the police & community to improve relationships shows contempt…worse… actually being bullied into a cancellation. #laleovoice”


All of this, of course, follows nearly a year of protests in the wake of George Floyd’s Minneapolis death.

But NOLA notes that cops in The Big Easy are self-professed leaders in the race for reform.

Locally, the New Orleans police leadership has repeatedly said the agency years ago adopted many of the reforms that protesters in other cities are demanding, such as use-of-force restrictions and transparency mandates. Many of those policies were embedded in a federal consent decree that has ruled the Police Department since 2012, although some were undertaken voluntarily.

Audubon’s statement agreed:

The Audubon Nature Institute understands and appreciates that the issue of ethical policing is at the forefront of our nation and our local community and that NOPD is a nationally recognized leader in law enforcement reform.

Chief Shaun also said as much:

“Anyone looking at the issue objectively would see that our department is the model for the implementation of the constitutional policing reforms the public is demanding.”

Nonetheless, there’ll be no Blue discounts to be had.


So how do you make inroads between police and the local community?

If no sponsors in the area are willing to oppose the #DefundThePolice tide currently crashing into the shores of society, perhaps you don’t.

We’re in a strange place at the moment: America’s lawmakers are condemning those hired to enforce the laws they themselves create. And heads of systems are denouncing those very systems as corrupt.

Meanwhile, the zoo pledged its support for further work — while calling out crappy cops:

Audubon stands firm in its support for holding law enforcement accountable for any and all unethical and unlawful behavior. Audubon also supports efforts that promote healing between law enforcement and the community. As such, working with the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, Audubon will be considering alternative ways to promote meaningful and impactful community engagement with the New Orleans Police Department.


The organization vowed it would “continue to work with the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation to find ways to support the New Orleans Police Department.”

Prediction: Whatever those “ways” are, they, too, will be decried as “divisive.”



See more pieces from me:

Students Praise Cornell University’s Rock Climbing Course Designed for Nonwhites

Virginia Does It Again, School District Issues a List of Oppressed and Privileged Identity Groups

Elementary Teacher Is Under Investigation for a Class Video Claiming Police ‘Don’t Like Black Men’

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