Source AP ©

New Orleans social club parades

Members of a predominantly black New Orleans social club will participate in an Easter Sunday parade after officials reached a temporary settlement over the levying of increased security fees.

More than a dozen of the New Orleans' so-called "second line" clubs sued the city after authorities raised more than threefold the $1,200 fee for providing security at the traditional "second line" parades.

The increase came after gunfire last year marred at least two of the colorful jazz-and-parasol processions that wind through unique New Orleans neighborhoods. One person was killed in the shootings, which were part of the city's a post Hurricane Katrina-surge in violence.

Wednesday's agreement will allow the Pigeon Town Steppers Social Aid and Pleasure Club to parade on Sunday. Police had planned to charge the group $7,500 (5,617 EUR), but the city agreed to reduce the fee to $2,413 (1,807 EUR), according to an attorney for the group.

The other lawsuit, for which a hearing is set for April 25, involves about 18 other clubs. The clubs continue to seek a preliminary injunction in federal court that would stop enforcement of the higher fees.

The social clubs had maintained that the increase in fees was discriminatory since the overwhelming majority of participants in the so-called "second line" parades are black.

"We're the only culture that is being taxed out of existence and we're one of the oldest cultures that exist in this city," Tamara Jackson, president of the New Orleans Social and Pleasure Club Task Force, said.

City officials, however, maintain that the fee is based on an evaluation of public safety needs.

The Pigeon Town club's reduction came after police re-evaluated overtime and personnel needs for the parade, said city attorney Joe DiRosa.

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