Swampwoman tells of her impressions of the situation.
Dangerblond has her report from right in the thick of things:
Although there were no fireworks during the Politics panel, I did manage to create some controversy later on in the afternoon when I threw Jay Arena out...he showed up today at the New Orleans Yacht Club for Dave Zirin’s speech. When Dave threw it open for questions, Arena made a statement in which he called New Orleans bloggers “hysterical” for writing about crime and calling for Eddie Jordan’s resignation and accused us of doing it because we want to see more black men to go jail.
That really pissed me off for a number of reasons. For one thing, I know which bloggers he is talking about because they are my friends. I know that their priorities to inform citizens of personal crimes and homicides in their neighborhoods so that they can be vigilant and know what to look for, to plot out where crimes are concentrated as a resource to law enforcement and citizens, and to honor the victims, who just seem to slip away into distant memory as though they never existed. In the future, bloggers would like to get more informed and involved in the justice system, and yes, most of us would like to see violent killers, batterers and rapists put in jail for a long time.
Arena must think he is talking to a bunch of people who are too uninformed to know that the outrageous numbers of young black men in jail are mostly doing statutorily-mandated time for drugs. I don’t know a single blogger who thinks it’s a good idea to use police officer time and jail space on non-violent drug offenders. I’m sure Arena would agree with us that these people need treatment, and a prison term will just give them time to earn a PhD. in drug sales and antisocial behavior.
So, no Jay, the New Orleans bloggers don’t want to see anyone going to jail, much less a young black man, unless they are involved in a violent crime. What we want is to keep our neighborhoods as safe as possible so that we don’t have to live behind bars.
Clay has photographic proof of the incident involving Arena's ejection.
These unscheduled visitors, all three of them, most certainly did NOT come out of Dave Zirin's back pocket. Really. I checked.
Bottom line is, there were candidates for local offices taking in the panels and talks at RT II who did not trade in on their status to get a free ride into this conference. There are quite visible, nationally known community activists who appeared on panels this year and, if all goes well once again with planning and organization of RT in the future, will likely do so again. Collection of conference fees is vital to the survival and success of the gathering, and security (unfortunately) ought to be as well.
Our numbers, and our visibility, are growing like the rising tide. To paraphrase Peter Parker, that comes with great responsibility.
I was damn happy to meet so many of the great people whose work I've been reading online. RT is great at creating an atmosphere for these folks. Let's not jeopardize that.
Instead, let's all gate crash the events that our illustrious oaf of a prez will be crashing in our city to "commemorate" (i.e., do his best to look like a sympathetic, compassionate individual and fail miserably) the second anniversary of 8-29 and after in this coming week. First Draft has more...