Audubon Plans New Event to Show Support for Police

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The cancellation of an event aimed at showing support for the New Orleans Police Department prompted “unintended fallout” and now the Audubon Nature Institute is planning another appreciation day.

Ron Forman, the Audubon’s president and CEO, on Friday apologized for the “unintended message” sent to many in the community who said cancellation of the six-day “Blue at the Zoo” had caused “pain in our community and was (considered) unsupportive of the hardworking people of our police department.”

“This was never our intention,” Forman said.

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The Blue at the Zoo promotion, initially scheduled from May 11-16, would have offered 20% discounts at zoo and aquarium concession stands and gift shops to anyone wearing the color identified with law enforcement, news outlets reported.

Forman said Audubon and the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the police department, now are organizing a new event in an effort to lift the city’s law enforcement community.

“We are currently working on final details and will update you as soon as the date is finalized,” Forman said. “We are also working on long-term meaningful partnership opportunities between NOPD and Audubon.”

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The event’s cancellation came less than a year after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a police officer who has since been convicted of murder. Floyd’s death prompted widespread protests and calls for police reform.

Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson, at the time, called Audubon’s decision to cancel the event “disappointing.”

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

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Ferguson and other department leaders have said the New Orleans agency already had adopted many of the reforms protesters in other cities are demanding, such as use-of-force restrictions and transparency. Those polices were a part of a federal consent decree that has ruled the New Orleans’ police department since 2012.

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