Judge's ruling: Zulu parade will go on in New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS -- A civil court judge here denied a temporary injunction that could have prevented one of the largest and most popular Mardi Gras krewes from parading next month.

Judge Yada McGee said she will leave the case open for now and ordered the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club to restore membership to lawyer David Belfield, who was suspended after he filed the suit to try to stop the group from parading this year.

Zulu will roll, big-time, said the clubs attorney, Ammon Miller, as members gathered outside the courtroom after the hearing. Without Zulu, there is no Mardi Gras.

The Zulu parade takes place on the morning of Feb. 28, which is Mardi Gras Day, the culmination of eight days of parades, masked balls and festivities.

Belfield conceded that it is unlikely that the clubs participation will be stopped, but he believes that Mardi Gras festivities are inappropriate in light of the citys continuing struggles to repair the devastation from Hurricane Katrina.

Belfield, a former king of Zulu who is now living in Atlanta because his home was heavily damaged by flooding, said, The name of the club is the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, and the leadership is focusing on pleasure, while I would like to see it focus more on the social aid.

Belfield had argued in court that the vote taken by members of the largely African-American krewe to participate was illegal, because the club did not adequately notify members of a meeting on the issue.

The Zulu krewe has about 600 members, but only 178 attended a meeting in December, when the parade vote was taken.

If a majority of the membership votes to go ahead, I can live with that. But they have not heard the arguments, he said.

Belfield, a New Orleans lawyer and a club member for 29 years, said he wants to make that presentation personally.

McGee, ruling from the bench, said she would allow Belfield to proceed with discovery to determine if the club made adequate efforts, given postal breakdowns, to notify its far-flung membership of the vote in December, but she said there was not enough cause to issue an injunction.

Charles Hamilton, president of the Zulu organization, and Miller said they will cooperate with Belfields efforts but consider any change unlikely now.

To contact reporter Dan Luzadder, send e-mail to [email protected].

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