Mayor Latoya Cantrell said a bar patron disrespected her and she had to stick up for herself
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell got into an angry confrontation on Wednesday night with a lounge patron. The altercation, which can be seen in a now-viral video, stemmed from her response to Hurricane Ida.
“Say what you have to say to me,” she said in the video to the man at the Polo Club Lounge in Gravier Street Hotel. The man questioned her about not instituting a mandatory evacuation ahead of the deadly hurricane that landed in the city.
The mayor, who has been in office since 2018, told the man that the city was only given a 72-hour notice before the storm, which was not enough time to make the order. The man then told her that she did have enough time.
In a press conference on Thursday, the city’s first female mayor said she had to speak up for herself after being disrespected by a man — something that she said she was “raised to do.”
The city of New Orleans has seen some of the worst hurricanes over the past decade, some of which have completely savaged the city.
In August 2005, the city was hit by the category 5 Hurricane Katrina, which left the city in shambles causing nearly 2000 deaths and causing an estimated $125 billion in damages.
The hurricane sparked much criticism of both the local and federal governments — particularly the delayed response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
When Hurricane Ida hit the still struggling infrastructure in 2021, the city endured widespread power outages, property damage and displacement of residents.
In this image released on June 26, Mayor LaToya Cantrell speaks onstage at the Evening Concert Series during the 2021 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture presented by Coca-Cola at University of New Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
Two days before the storm hit, Cantrell announced a voluntary evacuation for residents who were able to leave. She cited that she couldn’t make a mandatory order because the city didn’t have enough time coordinate and prepare for the complex highway contraflow procedures that would be needed to move residents out.
She also told residents who weren’t able to leave to do their best to prepare for the storm.
The patron was clearly still upset about her choice.
According to a witness who was present, the altercation began long before the 45-second cell phone recording started. Another witness added that the man was in the bar for at least an hour before he started openly criticizing the mayor.
Bar staff reportedly had to tell the man to keep his beratements down, and then the man eventually turned to the mayor to stare at her directly.
Cantrell repeatedly asked the man “what do you have to say to me” in the video before he finally asked her about Ida towards the end.
Cantrell said although she has not watched the video circling the web, she felt “very disrespected” by the man and was glad her children were not with her during the incident.
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