NBC33's top web stories for 2011; Your news, your stories

POSTED: Friday, December 30, 2011 - 8:40pm

UPDATED: Monday, January 2, 2012 - 11:12am

This year the NBC33 website gained its highest numbers ever. We’ve worked hard to revamp and bring more content to you. With nearly a million views on our website this year alone, clearly our efforts have gone noticed.

Looking back at 2011, there were so many hard hitting stories. However, here are the top 5 that got your attention.

NUMBER 5 - Mississippi Rising

Record water levels from melting snow topped records set during the Great Flood of 1927.

For weeks, the Governor's Office and Army Corps of Engineers debated whether or not to open the Morganza Spillway. The move kept big cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans above water, but it also meant inundating thousands of acres of farmland, and forces thousands who call the Atchafalaya Basin home, out.

"None of these decisions that we make are easy,” Col. Ed Fleming, Army Corps of Engineers, said on the day the Morganza Spillway was opened. “By the time these decisions get to my level, there are no easy decision left."

Opening those gates did relieve pressure on the levees, but home owners were also forced off their property, hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.

"You want to cry, but there’s nothing you can do about it," Gerald Freeman, a resident of Butte LaRose, told NBC33 News as he packed his belongs to bring his family to safer grounds.

Although property was lost, lives were saved.

NUMBER 4 - Flag Burning Controversy

Hours after the death of Osama Bin Laden was announced, a shocking discovery was made on LSU’s campus. Campus Police reported that the American flag was found ripped off the school's flag poll and burned.

Issac Eslaya, 23, was implicated in the crime and a couple days after the incident, he turned himself in to Police. He was arrested, but LSU graduate student Benjamin Haas said that violated his freedom of speech.

Word got out that Haas planned to burn an American flag on the parade grounds as a peaceful protest to the arrest of Eslava. A counter protest, however, showed up in greater numbers. NBC33 reporter Kelsey Scram and photo-journalist Doug Fain were overwhelmed by the chaos.

Haas did not get permission from the State Fire Marshal to burn the flag, so he read a statement instead. While reading to news crew cameras, members of the counter protest threw water and ice at Haas – most of which landed on our camera.

Eventually, campus police were forced to shut the whole thing down and escort Haas away. In the days following the protest, LSU Chancellor Michael Martin came under fire for seeming to applaud the actions of the counter protest – a statement many found to be encouraging of mob-mentality. Martin later retracted his statement.

NUMBER 3Bath Salt Ban

Synthetic drugs took headlines early in the year and got attention from top officials.

"I think it's the devil in a bag, without a doubt - this product is evil," Perry Rushing, Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, repeatedly told NBC33 News.

Although legal at the time, bath salts were never meant for human consumption. When ingested, the effects were similar to cocaine. We first reported on the danger in a 33MD segment, which was based on an advisory sent out by the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Soon thereafter, doctors started seeing people over dosing, hallucinating, and people even committed suicide after using the stuff. That got the attention of Governor Jindal who issued an emergency declaration to ban the faux drug.

During the 2011 Legislative Session, state law makers made the substances illegal.

"This stuff is killing kids,” a concerned citizen told NBC33 News after the ban was issued. “I think it's great they made it illegal."

However, the controversy surrounding legal drugs continues as manufactures continue to change ingredients to fit within the confines of the law. It’s a problem law enforcement say they don’t foresee an end to any time soon.

NUMBER 2 Tigers on Target

Fans were on board from day one with a web extra video of the LSU football team during Spring Practice. NBC33’s sports reporter Matt Boudreaux filmed the clip, and made sure Tiger fans got the online bonus.

Little did we know at the time that this season would be filled with such highs, and lows.

Early in the season a scandal involving Quarterback Jordan Jefferson took headlines for weeks. The player was just one of four who were implicated in a bar fight at Shady’s Bar near Tigerland. Jefferson was suspended while Police sorted out the details of the case, leaving fans fearing the worst.

However, the team rallied together around senior Quarterback Jarret Lee, who took Jefferson’s place as starter. He lead the team on a winning streak that continued throughout the entire season, pushing the Tigers to number one in the nation.

Now, the number one team in the nation will make another bid for the title of undefeated, national champions.

NBC33 News will air a special on the day of the championship, Monday, Jan. 9, called "Tigers on Target." We will be live from New Orleans with team coverage, as well as having a team in Baton Rouge for fan reaction. That special coverage will last one hour.

NUMBER 1 - Voodoo Slap

On Sunday, Oct. 30, the hip-hop collective called Odd Future performed on the main festival stage at the Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans. Shortly after completing the first song of the set, one of the members began ranting about his distaste, to put it nicely, for photographers who were working in the pit area.

Odd Future has a reputation for picking on photographers working shows, but this time, things went a little too far. One member in particular, Vyron Turner, aka “Left Brain,” was accused of slapping female photographer Amy Harris across the face.

Other photographers working the show backed up the claim, and one photographer says Turner also broke his camera.

The story sparked national attention instantly and was picked up by publications such as Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and Billboard Magazine.

Initially, Harris declined to press charges, saying she thought Turner would “apologize” in the days following. However, the opposite was true.

Less than a day after the allegations went viral, the publicist for Odd Future released a statement denying the incident ever happened. After reading a slanderous comment by Turner online, Harris decided to fly back to New Orleans and formally press charges against the California-based rapper.

Since then, Odd Future has continued to make headlines for their disruptive, and abusive behavior.

The day after Harris filed charges, Odd Future performed a showcase at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX. Again, things got heated after Tyler the Creator was hit in the face by a stray water bottle. Video on YouTube (note: the video this link goes to contains explicit language) shows the 20-year-old rapper leaping from the stage, and nearly enticing a fight in the crowd.

But the over-reactive fun doesn’t stop there. Days before Christmas the group performed a showcase in California, which was abruptly put to an end with the arrest of Tyler the Creator.

Reports say that the club’s owner told the sound operator to shut the show down after noticing the crowd was becoming too rowdy. We’re told he noticed females in the front near the stage being crushed. Fearing for the safety of his patrons, the show was stopped, which did not please Tyler the Creator one bit.

Another YouTube video (note: the video this link goes to contains explicit language) shows the rapper attacking the soundboard and its operator. Although the sound engineer expressed sympathy for the group, empathizing with their frustration for being shut down, the Sheriff’s Department wasn’t as understanding.

Tyler the Creator was arrested for destruction of property. We’re told fans poured into the street to witness the arrest, and that the crowd reacted in a nearly riotous way.

Keep up with great stories such as these throughout 2012 by downloading the NBC33 mobile app, or keep up with stories on our Facebook page.

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