The Holy Cross neighborhood in the Lower Ninth Ward has in the last several years become coveted high-ground real estate. As a result, the traditionally Black area has drawn a diverse array of new neighbors. And with such diversity comes often drastically different ideals, opinions, and methods of handling conflict within the community.
One center of Holy Cross’ growing pains has been Mercedes Place Bar, owned for roughly 25 years by 74-year-old Mercedes Gibson. At first located in Central City on Baronne and Clio, Gibson later moved Mercedes Place to 5200 Burgundy in the Lower Nine, nearer to her home of 30 years.
Mercedes Gibson rebuilt what Katrina destroyed. Today her daughter Deborah Wilson—raised in the Lower Nine but now living in Woodmere—describes her mother’s bar as a respite for senior citizens, a mellow place she says opens early and closes around 9 p.m. each night.
Mercedes Place has, however, especially recently, been directly blamed for feeding into the area’s famously abundant drugs and crime. Wilson, speaking for her elderly mother, claims her family has never heard any direct complaints about the bar; complaints went directly to the city via parties that choose to remain anonymous.
“New neighbors have come in with their own game plan, and things they want to change,” claims Wilson, who says she knows everyone around the bar, except a few of the new renters and other sudden neighbors. “The neighborhood could use some changes but… why you gonna target an original neighborhood business that came back after Katrina”
In truth though, the story is more complex.
On Nov 29, 2011, a shooting occurred at Mercedes Place. Then in March of 2012, drug dealers reportedly ran into Mercedes Place to escape police and ditch contraband. Another aggravated battery report was filed against the bar on April 7, 2012. CLICK HERE to read the rest of this piece at Louisiana Weekly…
Or watch this video of the trial: