Curfew imposed in flooded Baton Rouge after looting arrests

Baton Rouge was placed under curfew Tuesday after several people were reportedly arrested for looting homes and businesses in the wake of historic floods that slammed southern Louisiana.

According to Gov. John Bel Edwards, more than 30,000 people and counting have been rescued from the torrential rains that have left at least 11 dead and damaged at least 40,000 homes since Friday. By Monday, the brutal rain had begun to subside, but the rescue effort continues.

While some other southern parishes such as Livingston, Central and Tangipahoa had imposed curfews over the weekend, by the time the brutal rain had begun to subside Monday, East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden had made no such declaration for his parish, which includes the city of Baton Rouge.

According to the Advocate, however, by Tuesday at least 14 people had been arrested for looting in East Baton Rouge, prompting parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux to seek an executive order from Gov. Edwards to impose the curfew himself.

“As sheriff, I fully recognize that the mayor has the ability to call for a curfew. I have never questioned that authority. However, in my conversations, … he has not been willing to do that,” Gautreaux told reporters.

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The East Baton Rouge curfew runs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Gautreaux said the curfew would remain in effect until local conditions improve, the Advocate reported.

Holden told local CBS affiliate WAFB that he has “no issue whatsoever” with imposing a curfew and issued a warning to potential looters.

“We are not going to tolerate lawlessness of any kind or anywhere in our city,” Holden said in a statement. “No part of our city will be unprotected. If you break the law, you will be arrested and prosecuted. The protection of our city and its citizens are top priority.”

Those arrested in looting incidents around East Baton Rouge reportedly included four young men, ages 18 to 27, who were picked up by sheriff’s deputies after stealing $750 worth of merchandise from a Dollar General Monday night. According to the arrest report obtained by the Advocate, the men admitted that they’d broken into the dollar store with “intent to steal supplies that they needed after losing items during the storm.”

Danny and Alys Messenger canoe away from their flooded home after reviewing the damage in Prairieville, La., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. (Photo: Max Becherer/AP)
Danny and Alys Messenger canoe away from their flooded home after reviewing the damage in Prairieville, La. (Photo: Max Becherer/AP)

According to a detailed post on the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, all four of the men were booked into the parish prison on charges of theft, looting and violating Edwards’ declared state of emergency.

Because of the floods, both the Baton Rouge City Court and the 19th Judicial Court in East Baton Rouge are closed until next Monday, Aug. 22.

Eight people were also reportedly arrested for looting in Livingston, parish Sheriff Jason Ard told the Advocate, while several more evacuees said they found their homes ransacked upon returning after the flood this week.