Sunday, September 23, 2007

DIALOGUE
I wanted to make the point that this, too, is an injustice. And that it disproportionately affects the African-American community.
But I couldn’t find the numbers to back that up, even though I am confident that by far the majority of those murdered in New Orleans are African-American, based on where the murders happen and my personal experience as a news photographer and seeing the murdered human beings myself. I get my information for this blog from media accounts, and the media does not think it is politically correct to reveal the race of the victim. Obviously, I disagree with this because I think race is part of the story.
...148 murders 264 days into the year – a murder every 1.7 days, or basically a murder every other day. At that rate, we will end the year with 204 murders. If nothing changes, 56 more human beings will die a violent death on the streets of New Orleans. In a city with a population of 300,000, that comes to a murder rate of 68 murders per 100,000 residents.
That’s too many. It’s too much.
It’s worthy of a march.
There is a difficulty with black on black crime as it relates to a solution. In my opinion, the only way to truly come up with a solution to this problem is to admit that the last 40 years after integration have been a failure and people gave too much to that struggle to admit that. This fight against destructive behavior would be easy if some group of old white men came out and admitted they have been altering the minds of young black people and influencing them to hate one another on a large scale. That would change everything really fast but it's not going to happen. Black Americans feel a common bond to each other more than any other group. That's a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing when something like Jena happens because it leads to common outrage. It's a curse when it comes to violence because we are not comfortable turning our kids over to the system because when we do that's an admission of failure by all of us on some level. I don't think we have a clue what to do about all this killing.
We live in a city in which innocent citizens are often homicide victims. Bad guys are no longer just killing bad guys. We have no more excuses. We need to act immediately. To strike at our enemy, we must launch our bombers. Time spent on the runway is time not spent in the air and over the target.
This is the current situation in the district attorney's office. There has been a concerted effort to recruit experienced attorneys from the public sector as lead prosecutors. But that plan is floundering. Most of the attorneys first appointed to the Violent Offender Unit have resigned, myself included.
Our assistant district attorneys are competent and dedicated, but they are seldom "over target" due to an atrocious lack of support and personnel and a mountain of paperwork. Today, assistant district attorneys leave quickly because they are frustrated by the environment.
Any large office must have adequate support staff. There is no secretarial pool in the district attorney's office. The district attorney asked a City Council committee Wednesday for money to hire clerical staff, but in the meantime prosecutors must do all the typing and copying.
During my brief time with the Violent Offender Unit, I was without an office the first week. I paid for supplies out of my own pocket. I never got a computer, and I frequently wasted time standing in line to use the one good copier in the place.
Meanwhile, investigators with street cop experience are in the minority. The office needs the police experience to assist the prosecutors.
For more perspective on the criminal justice system in these parts, I refer you to Dangerblond's recent posts.
So many more people in this great blogosphere of ours have written so well about this problem. Justice in the form of the U.S. court system can be used for good as well as for bad. It is getting harder for people to do good within this system.
So, hey, let's talk about it.

2 comments:

Professor Zero said...

"...the last 40 years after integration have been a failure and people gave too much to that struggle to admit that."

But does Cliff mean it was integration that caused this trouble?
I really doubt it, I think it's a lot more complex than that ...

Leigh C. said...

Her's my take on it. I hope Cliff can weigh in at some point soon.

Integration has largely come about in fits and starts, with struggle and agitation happening every step of the way. For every person who says, and believes wholeheartedly, that prejudice ought to be no more, there are more than likely a couple of other people who feel differently. Eevn the people who want prejudice and bigotry to come to an end are still going to have some unconscious biases.

Those biases are going to come out at every level of society. Elementary education. Secondary education. Standardized testing. Employment opportunities. Negotiations for better wages. Housing. Child care. Personal hygiene and style. Even pop culture preferences. And back to the beginning of the vicious circle.

In the end, it is only unacceptable to speak openly of those biases. To call them bigotry or prejudice. In many, many ways, the racism that is still around has simply gone underground. It is a complex problem that still hasn't been completely effectively addressed.

And there is NO time like the present to bring the subtlety out into the open and call it what it is. Prejudice.